Board President’s Latest News
Ken "WISH" Hargrove
FEBRUARY 2015 --UPDATE
It is just over 100 days until we begin our Mission for 2015. I want to welcome back our many RFTW-experienced riders. You are the glue and the safety net for our many FNG’s each year. You each have your reasons and needs for riding this Run, you each feel the responsibility and the healing and give support to each other, thank you! Those who will be riding with us for the first time this year...button down your collars, you are about to join one of the most sincere missions you can find in this commercial world.
“We Ride for Those Who Can’t”— six simple words with a very deep and wide meaning. You first-timers, or “FNG’s” as you will be known until reaching The Wall, should be prepared to laugh, to cry, to have your breath taken away and to be humbled.
“We Ride for Those Who Can’t”— we ride for the veteran who is unable to make the ride himself, when doing so we are responsible for carrying their need for healing cross-country to The Wall.
“We Ride for Those Who Can’t”— we ride for our fellow riders who are in need of healing and in need of support as they are welcomed home, many for the first time ever.
“We Ride for Those Who Can’t”— we ride to bring awareness of the POW/MIA issues and the thousands of our brethren who have yet to be brought back home and to shine a light on the government’s lack of attention to this solemn commitment to leave no one behind.
“We Ride for Those Who Can’t”— we ride out of respect and support for our current serving military who are in harm’s way and who are at the beck and call of our nation’s needs.
This is a motorcycle ride. Our logistics are devised for and optimized for moving a couple of thousand motorcycles across this country in support of our Mission. That said, we also welcome four-wheeled supporters and veterans who need this healing and support our mission. In doing so we recognize that there are Mission supporters who cannot ride in our midst. Putting four wheels in close proximity with two wheels is a recipe for disaster. We go to great lengths to keep our motorcycle-cade safe from accidents and therefore will set in place some rules of the Run for four-wheel (cagers) interaction.
Basically, it is very important that any four-wheelers on the three routes(except official Chase vehicles) run 15 minutes ahead of us and should expect to meet up with us at the lunch and evening events. There are very few, if any, events at the in-between gas stops for the motorcycles. Fundamentally, motorcycles can run for two hours without needing refueling, while cagers can run for four to six hours without needing a gas station. PLEASE DO NOT USE THE SAME FUEL STOPS AS THE MOTORCYCLES. If you are on 4-wheels and do not have a GPS, invest in one, it is a couple of hundred bucks but will bail you out many times over as we cross this nation. And it will answer many of the questions posed to route leadership on a daily basis.
We will have a meeting in Ontario for all cagers that are not Merchandise trailers or Chase vehicles (you know who you are). It will be important for these drivers to understand the timing and coordination for their vehicles. All cagers are expected to be at the meeting and receive the modified itineraries for cagers at that meeting. It will be on the day before we leave Ontario and posted with the Ontario Itinerary in April.
Speaking of Ontario, the RFTW hotels are currently 60% booked. That means 40% are still available! Oh and Arlington, VA is NOT full! The Host Hotel is full, but there are several other RFTW-hotels which we use every year. Please go to your route’s tab (Central, Southern, Midway) on this website to get the latest information available. I understand that the RC videos are now up and that Southern’s Hotel list (COMPLETE) is up!
GET READY IT IS AROUND THE CORNER!
JANUARY 2015 --UPDATE
Happy New Year!
I am writing to communicate the latest info for the Kick-Off and Arrival Hotel Booking info.
You can book your ONTARIO and ARLINGTON rooms NOW!
The Route Coordinators will communicate the Hotel lists for the routes (CENTRAL and MIDWAY already have- thanks Don and Billy!)
STONEY and CJ need to get theirs up yet, I believe they have targeted mid-Month for the full list!
Here is the ’all-riders’ booking info for Ontario and Arlington:
You can book your rooms now!!
As I see that only Central route has posted their Hotel lists as of Jan. 2nd..I would like to make sure that the Midway and Southern riders also have a fair shot at booking their hotels-- at least in Ontario (the kick-off) and Arlington (our target). I cannot control the info for each route’s hotels along the routes but I do have control of the rates and booking info for the launch and arrival locations.
There are 4 of them listed and The Radisson is the Host Hotel
All 4 hotels can be booked through a single weblink:click on the link, you can exit at anytime
there is also a single phone number for all 4 contracted hotels in Ontario if you wish to call instead:
ARLINGTON HOST HOTEL- HOLIDAY INN AT BALLSTON
Contact info for the Host Hotel is:
4610 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203
Again, Happy New Year!
December 2014 – UPDATE
I have seen a flurry of activity through the website registration tab. I believe we are approaching the two hundred pre-registered mark and it isn’t even Mid-December yet!! I believe I can assure everyone that the online pre-registration is OPEN.
Let’s check ‘em off together:
Ontario Host Hotel communicated- ONTARIO RADISSON AIRPORT, Ontario, CA. √
Ontario Launch site chosen and Hotels SELECTED, √
Arlington National Cemetery Authorization OBTAINED, √
Route Coordinator’s 2015 messages UPDATED, √
2014/2015 Store OPEN, √
Route Coordinator’s leadership teams ASSEMBLED, √
Pre-registration OPEN, √
Do Not attempt to book a room until central-booking Phone number is announced on line through itineraries and Post.
Arlington HOST Hotel communicated – HOLIDAY INN-BALLSTON, Arlington, VA. √
‘Itineraries’ Posted---not yet, should be by New Year, Jan.1, 2015 (oops!)
Route ‘Contacts’ all Posted –Central, √; Southern, √; Midway, not yet (oops!)
Moving along, we expect the last wrinkles and details to all flush out over the next couple of weeks. The signs and hats and patches and lanyards and windshield banners and, and, and, are all on order. New 2015 Flyers, new promotional video and new products for the store are in various levels of completion and coming shortly. The hotels along each route have been selected, the gas stops on each route have all been selected, and negotiated with for RFTW rates. Your Platoon Leaders have been contacted, your advance teams are forming with fuelers and stagers and such, your Road Guards are re-cert’ing their skills and you Riders.............?
Let’s review the Rider’s checklist:
- Your riding skills? Get ‘em ready
- Your Bike’s maintenance? Get it in shape
- Your travel gear? Pack and re-pack
- Your health? Biker UP! Cuz it will be;
What? It’s 140 days to Kickstands up? ...You mean its ONLY 140 days to kickstands up! It seems too far away and then it seems to be coming too quickly, just like Christmas.
Oh yeah! Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to RFTW and supporters! And Happy New Year,
Remember our Mission and those whom we represent. God Bless our military and especially be with those who cannot be home during these Holidays.
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