Board President’s Latest News
Almost feel panic as every week goes by, as every month goes by.
Almost feel elation as the mental countdown clock tics away towards another Run drawing near.
‘Elation’ as the Mission beckons and ‘Panic’ as I realize the magnitude of what we are about to pull off and I watch all of the flurry of activity going on behind the scenes by Route Coordinators, Road Guard Captains, Advance team Captains, Platoon leadership, state coordinators, fundraising event organizers, Hotel negotiations, meal coordination, gas stop coordination, LEO communication and coordination and rider communications.
“Stoney” (Southern Route RC)"EZ" (Central Route RC) and "Tumbleweed” (Midway Route RC) are marshaling their resources, engaging their leadership teams and orchestrating the beginnings of RFTW 2015. Our Arlington National Cemetery interaction is once again assured for 2015 (thanks “Road King”). The major metropolitan areas we traverse are well into the planning stages and step-by-step choreography (bet you never thought you’d see “Stoney’s” name in the same paragraph with ‘choreography’!).
I am impressed each year by the riders that ‘step-up’ when needed and ‘step-forward’ when asked. Thank you!
Our California launch will take a slightly different turn this year, sort of ‘back to the future’; prior to kicking off out of Rancho Cucamonga (RC) back in 2008, we launched for many years out of Ontario, CA (right next door to RC). Well, as we have experienced over the past few years, we have outgrown the capability of RC hotels to handle such a large group as RFTW.
Our Mission 2015 will once again begin in Ontario, CA- we will have a significantly larger host hotel (with better rates) with adjacent alternative hotels (with better rates). The Radisson Hotel Ontario Airport will be our new host hotel and we have contracts with 4 other hotels all within a click of the host. The Ontario Convention Center and Visitors Bureau will handle all reservations for the 5 contracted hotels all with one single phone number, to be posted.
We will have over 600 parking spaces at our beck and call at The Radisson alone and we will sleep less than 100 yards from the Wednesday morning Kick-off staging area at the Ontario Convention Center, which is three times the size of our staging area these past 7 years. Tuesday night’s RFTW-Kick-off-dinner will be hosted onsite at the Radisson and INSIDE. Even better, the main-drag from KSU on Wednesday morning is a direct merge onto the freeway. FNG’s probably cannot appreciate this yet, but…you will!
Now, the main questions I continually get asked:
- Run Hotel lists will not go up until the New Year, the negotiated rates are significant so please don’t try to book outside of the RFTW published window (I know some of you do!) you’ll miss out on significant savings…
- RFTW Registration opens at the same time as every year, January 1st -- no, we are not behind, it just feels that way since we (all y’all)are ready to roll again the day after we get back!
Support The Mission, Support your Route Coordinator, Take the time to engage others and talk about The Run and if you can, volunteer to be a resource for your Route as well as a Rider for The Mission. Attend any local RFTW rider support groups and encourage our FNG’s.
If you are in Route leadership already, get your RC to post up contact info on the website so that you can be helped!!
All Gave Some, Some Gave All
Ken “Wish” Hargrove
I am honored to be selected as President for this next year, I am committed to our Mission and the success of this year’s Run, just as I have been committed to the success of every Run since my first year in 2007. What do I bring to the table? A lot of two-wheeled Run miles; ATW SR- 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, ATW MR- 2014 and Participant CR-2008.
You might ask what happened to All The Way in 2008? Well, as my wife always says, every great story starts with “No $#!+, there I was…”. Well “No $#!+, there we were…” putting some pre-run break-in miles on our new rides, the week before RFTW 2008. Next thing we knew her bike flips at 65mph on I-10 and she is in a body cast for the next 9 months. It was all I could do to register and ride to the first gas stop that year.
Since then I’ve volunteered as Tailgunner for 2 years, Platoon Leader 1 year, Road Guard for 3 years and on the Board of Directors as Secretary/Treasurer for the past 2 years. Why do I ride? Why do we all? I have buddies and family and friends on the Wall. I spent 2 tours in Nam from late 1968 through most of 1970. I have trouble even approaching The Wall. Going with RFTW support eases the approach. I see, hear and feel them as I get closer. Thank you, Brothers and Sisters.
I am committed to the POW/MIA Awareness campaign that we all wage, I honor our currently serving military at every chance and I am involved in Veteran’s events where I am able. Along with my RFTW Mission commitments, I serve as 1st Vice Commander of my local American Legion, Post 78 in Claremont, CA. I’m a Member of the local Marine Corps League, Detachment 965. I’m a Life Member of DAV I’m also Chair of the Claremont High School Veteran’s Alumni Committee, where I diligently uncover and archive, 113 years of Alumni veterans.
I have 4 kids and 13 grandkids. The 2 oldest of my grandkids have been on the Run, 1 of them All The Way. The younger ones are already planning their ‘turns’ to accompany Grandpa. We make it an honor for them to be able to go. They need to ‘qualify’ to ride with this crusty crew. They had to run military donation drives, send packages to the troops, write essays on American Flag protocol and write reports on the Congressional Medal of Honor. One of them wrote a detailed summary of my wife’s favorite CMOH recipient’s life. All ‘graded’ by my wife, who has now rehabbed enough so that she was able to ride All The Way finally this past year.
What do I think we need to focus on for 2015? Maximize our profile as we cross this country. We have started some great relationships with a couple of National Corporations, KIA and Pepsi. Each route has some highly visible events and some deeply personal interactions with their supporters along the way. I still come across people that have never heard of us, we need to harness these lost opportunities. It is a particular shame when I come across the many veterans that do not know that we are even out there. That veteran very likely has a need that we can meet, a cross we can help him/her bear, a ‘Welcome Home’ that can make a world of difference and if they don’t have a need at least they can pass along awareness of our Mission and be given a chance to participate.
I am looking forward to working with a highly capable and motivated Board for 2014/2015. There are many challenges in front of us to insure RFTW 2015 is as good or even better than every Run for the past 26 years, not the least of which is to better organize our Rancho kick-off venue. The Route Coordinators, Assistant Route Coordinators and Road Guard Captains are the core leadership of each Route for which the Route Coordinator is the General. It is our responsibility to make sure that we give these Generals the resources they need to make it happen.
Support The Mission, Support your Route Coordinator, Take the time to engage others and talk about The Run and if you can, volunteer to be a resource for your Route as well as a Rider for The Mission. I look forward to working with you in this coming year.
...I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the kick-off in California this year. We had to react on short notice this past year, to a surprise by the past host hotel(s) not being able to participate in 2014. We will be going ’back to the future’ in 2015 as we launch out of Ontario, California as RFTW had for many years until 2008. I’ll be making a separate announcement in the October newsletter, which will be mirrored here, about the new venue.
All Gave Some, Some Gave All