Board Presidentís Latest News
FRIDAY - December 13, 2013
I am Harry “Attitude” Steelman. Many of you all know me by now as I had the distinct honor of leading the Central Route across our great nation in 2011 and have served on the BOD for the past two years. Once again I am honored and humbled by RFTW as I have been asked to serve as your President of the Board of Director’s for this next year. I will do my utmost best to serve you well.
I have yet (until this very moment) post a “President’s Latest News” and I know that the scuttlebutt out there is probably running rampant. I have no excuse; reasons, perhaps, but no excuses, so I will make none. I do apologize. So – This will be a long one.
You do need to know that the BOD is functioning very well. The new officers have taken hold of their responsibilities and are getting things put together for the 2014 RFTW XXVI. Of course the BOD exists to support the Route Coordinators who bear the brunt of the burden. Borrowing from my newsletter articles I want to reiterate that the BOD does not work in a vacuum, addressing issues that they and only they find significant and then approving only measures which they feel meets the needs of their particular interests. We work as a team to resolve issues that affect and are of interest to all riders. My two years on the Board have been very rewarding and have given me a tremendous insight into the workings of RFTW. The Board has truly been in existence to serve you, the riders. Issues are raised and the BOD addresses ALL of them. We DO read the After Action Reports and discuss the positive and the not so positive contained therein. We celebrate our successes and take our lumps when necessary following through with appropriate action to correct our deficiencies. That corrective action does not always have the results that we intended, so we sometimes have to adjust again. I took the opportunity to address the riders at all three reunions and attempted to deliver the same message. I presented the activities of the Board in an attempt to show our transparency. I suppose that some thought it an infringement on the opportunity of the Riders to express their concerns and ask questions at the Rider’s Meeting, however we did our best to allow time for that.
So, what have we accomplished? We elected new leadership as detailed in the July Newsletter. Please join me in welcoming Greg “Pied Piper” Smith and Harlan “Whitebirch” Olson to the Board. We approved new Route Leadership. Congratulations to John “Hardcharger” Barker, Ken “Catfish” Ward and, now, Reid “Pops” Choate. (Since our initial meetings, Phil “First gear” Sloan, for personal reasons, has stepped down as Route Coordinator for the Southern Route and Reid Choate has been approved to carry on in that capacity.) We have approved the Midway Route as a new “Standard” Route (350 motorcycles maximum in 2014 including leadership). We have amended the By-Laws and SOPs to more clearly define the RC/BOD roles and responsibilities. Effective immediately, ALL Routes will offer a minimum of 2 staggered platoons. (This issue has been a subject of discussion at nearly all BOD meetings for the past eight years and is now resolved.) Order of March has been set out of Rancho for 2014: MR first, followed by SR, then CR at ten minute intervals. The Central Route will be first through Front Royal in 2014, but if LEO escort is desired, they will have to arrange for their own, assisted by the new Virginia State Coordinator. Responsibilities have been assigned to each route for activities in D.C./Arlington.
We intend to put together an all-volunteer emergency response team at the rear of each pack to work with the Road Guards in the handling of any emergencies that may arise. (This following a pilot program that worked well on the CR this past year.)
We are sort of changing the tone of my previous statement. THERE ARE NO “OFFICIAL” REUNIONS. The BOD exists solely to support the Route Coordinators and to provide continuity from year to year. (My opinion that is not necessarily shared by all) We do not “host” reunions. The Colorado contingent has put together a “Reunion Team” and will host the BOD Annual Face to Face meeting at a reunion to be held again in Co. Springs next July. The BOD will announce where they intend to meet in 2015 well in advance in order to provide riders in that area an opportunity to develop a reunion if they so desire.
Other notable actions include the continuing support of “Run For Them All” through the establishment of a Committee reporting to the BOD and chaired by Harlan Olson, Director of PR & Communications and staffed by Barbara “Rocky” Bell, the continued development of the Archives by a Committee chaired by Daryl “Top” Neil/Harlan Olson and staffed by Jennifer “Flame” Connors.
There you pretty much have it. How did we fare in 2013? Well, we registered a total of 1,981 participants, split pretty well down the middle for CR/SR, and the Merchandise yielded $155k in revenue.
New in 2014? WEEELLL………….. Yes, the host hotel will move in Rancho Cucamonga. The final Hotel list will be posted on Jan 1st. We will not have the luxury of having three hotels in a nice neat complex, but we will be closer to Victoria Gardens and there are ALOT of great eating places in the immediate area.
The reason for the change is that we could not secure the same block of rooms this year and then the Host Hotel told us that we could not use the Parking Lot for our Tuesday night dinner. Let's look at it from their prospective -- as a business decision. First they pretty much sell out their rooms on a weekly basis anyway without us on the property. Second we secure all of their rooms for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. Regular clientele goes elsewhere for the week and they lose business on Wednesday and Thursday. Some regulars choose to just take their business elsewhere because they depend on the ability to stay at the same hotels when in town. Third we make a lot of noise, totally fill up the available parking and generally take the place over for three days. We ask them to move cars out of our way and block off the lot so that "regular folks" have to hoof it from BJ's or farther. They have made this decision in an effort to maintain a level of business that sees too many ups and downs due to the economy anyway. I really can't blame them. We need to remember, right or wrong, a lot of people (not the hotels, mind you, but their guests) don't see us as being as special as we think we are.
The new hotel is welcoming us with open arms. I suggested this to the Sales Manager two years ago, but she thought it unethical to steal the business from our regular spot. Now is her opportunity -- Let's see how it works out.
AND – As you might imagine, there are some issues with the Tuesday night dinner as well. We’re working on it. A special thanks to Carol Olmstead who is doing most of the legwork and coordination with all of the Rancho contacts.
Oh, yes -- The Wounded warrior Bike Build. This has NO connection to the Wounded Warriors program, however the recipient of the specialized motorcycle must be s wounded warrior. For more information, please visit the "Wounded Warrior" tab on the RFTW Home Page.
If anyone has any questions, comments or concerns, I encourage them to contact a Board Member so that these concerns can be put on our agenda and discussed on our monthly meetings. Contact info for the Directors is listed on the website. (My email is email@example.com and my cell phone is 949-422-8325, but email is by far the best as I do still have a “real” job and can’t always take a call.) Our monthly BOD meetings are by conference call and are held in closed session. Our next Face to Face will be in Phoenix in Feb., which will also be a closed session. I will report on what we discuss following that meeting.
Again I want to reiterate to all what an honor I consider it to be to be asked to serve you all in this capacity. I have taken last year’s president’s, (Ray “Too Tall” McDowell) parting comments to heart: We (expressly the BOD) need to always remember “Why we do this” and that “Providing a healing experience for the Riders should be our paramount concern.” In fact EVERYONE should strive to remember this as we prepare for our next journey.
MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Harry "Attitude" Steelman
April 7, 2013
Hope everyone is getting ready to do the ride of a lifetime. We are under 37 days now, so everyone should be getting their bikes and gear in shape. A few things to remember are your medications that you will need for the 2-3 week trip. I usually lay out all my clothes and then pack half of them and then take it all out and take half of that. There will be places along the way that you can do laundry. Be sure to bring a copy of your insurance for your bike and your motorcycle endorsement, as well. I know many of you have pre-registered, and that is good. If you printed it out after you completed the form, bring that with, as well. When you get to Rancho or wherever you will be joining The Run, as you fill out your medical form, be sure to list a contact with phone # that is not on The Run with you.
This is the 25th year for Run For The Wall and there are a lot of new things that will be happening on both routes. This will be an exciting year for all the FNG's and the riders that have done the mission before. If anyone has any questions on anything to do with The Run, please contact me, either of the Route Coordinators or any of the Board of Directors, and we will try to answer any questions you may have. Until we meet in May, be safe and ride safe.
Ray "Too Tall" McDowell
Board President’s Latest News
Happy New year to everyone. I hope everyone had a great holiday and Santa was good to you. We are in the process of getting things ready for our 25th year Run For the Wall. It is time to start getting your bike and you in shape for the run. I have started walking and trying to get in shape for the run. The BOD and Route coordinators have been putting in a lot of time in order to make this the best run ever. We have several new things that we are doing this year for our 25th year. We have set the dates for the official reunion in Colorado Springs, it will be the last weekend in July, the 26,27,28. We will be posting the hotels very soon for this . I will be posting on here every month until the run. If any of the riders have any questions on things that you would like to see done or not done, please contact one of the route coordinators or any of the BOD , we will be glad to answer your questions . It won’t be long until we start packing and heading to Rancho for the run. We are workng to try to keep you safe and yet have a great experience.
Remember start working on your bike and your body, you will be glad you did.
Too Small is making me excercise and I am not happy.
To the Run For The Wall Family,
My term on the Board of Directors has come to an end. I have enjoyed meeting so many people this year at both route reunions and at the Tulsa RFTW reunion and of course during the run itself.
The Run For The Wall volunteers and leadership contribute so much of their time, work and skills that our journey is celebrated by every community we pass thru across America.
It has been the greatest honor for me to work with the fantastic ladies and gentlemen who put RFTW together each year. As I write this I must pause to think about all the names and faces of the people I saw doing all the hard work in tough climates and in conditions of enormous stress. The reward of seeing the riders’ faces and emotions when confronted by a sea of America flags on an overpass is one impression I will always hold dear. Riding with the Ambassador team this year rather than with the Road Guards I was able to experience again for myself that same emotion from seeing the folks on the overpasses and sidewalks.
In closing I would like to again sincerely express what an honor and privilege it has been to serve on the Board and to be President 2012 of this amazing organization.
April 4, 2012
Only 42 days until Run For The Wall 24. I am very excited! Preparations are coming together well and the folks in Rancho are preparing to welcome us.
I could go on at great length about all the people, organizations and entire towns that are planning for our arrival. It’s humbling when you stop and think about how many people across this country plan and work to support our mission. I am sure the number is in the thousands. It is important that as participants of RFTW we thank these folks and make them know their efforts are appreciated. I have said it before; to carry out these rides with an all volunteer organization is not only amazing it’s a statement about patriotism and compassion in this country. For you FNGs (which is 30 – 40% of riders annually) you are about to be welcomed home and to be thanked for your service. You are about to embark on 12 days of healing with folks that “get it”.
Some riders will wonder.. “what am I doing here?”. Run For The Wall is hard work! Especially the first few days crossing the dessert. It takes a couple of days to settle in and get the rhythm of the Run. FNGs… please seek out advise (or just complain to someone) and you’ll feel better soon! It is important that all of you read our mission statement, our history, and check out our frequently asked questions. Everyone must understand that Run For The Wall is a mission. We ride for many personal reasons but the Run itself exists to make a statement and to honor our POW/MIAs from all wars. This is the reason behind riding in parade formation during certain segments of the Run. Note that your equipment and riding ability is crucial to your success and enjoyment during these 12 days.
Every year the Run is made of many interesting groups and individuals and this year, our 24th year, is no different. You will see American Legion riders, Patriot Guards riders, and lots of local and regional club members. The Run itself has groups that get together on the way to the Run such as those renegades out of TexasJ…and don’t forget F-Troop on Central Route - these guys are a quiet institution willing to help anyone and they are dedicated to keeping the Run real.
One note of news, there has been a change this year on the Run. The Veterans Administration Mobile Support Vehicle will not be able to make the journey this year. I thank them sincerely for their previous support and to Mr. Milo Garcia for his hard work. We will miss him.
I am so proud of the hundreds of people who work so hard to put this event together. Please be sure to thank the volunteers each day.
Ok, see you in Rancho Cucamonga! I will post again the first of May. If you have any questions please ask - board members and route coordinators are there to help you.
Till The Day,
March 21, 2012
We are all getting very excited about the Run. I am receiving a lot of mail with questions and ideas and that’s a sure sign that you folks are getting ready to journey across America. I have a couple of items to let you all know about.
The Mobile Vet Centers from the VA Readjustment Counseling Services outreach program will be accompanying RFTW again this year. The Vet Center staff is committed to “keeping the promise’ to our veterans - serving those who served. They can also answer VA entitlement questions so bring your DD-214 if you want to take advantage of this. Mr. Milo Garcia is the driver of this mobile unit and it’s a great honor to have him with the RFTW this year. Be sure to stop by and check the center out and thank them for their support.
The itineraries for both routes have been submitted, checked and have been posted on the web site.
We have been contacted by Lilibeth Suico, the sales manager at the Holiday Inn, Arlington, and they have generously offered to comp parking for RFTW guests. Thanks to The Holiday Inn and Bob Alwell, our coordinator in DC for this gift. As riders let’s make sure to consolidate our bikes and thank them for the parking.
Since I’m talking parking, here comes the big news….we have secured parking on Saturday in DC near the Lincoln Memorial for the time we are taking our picture and going to the Wall. Our DC coordinator, Bob Alwell, met with Mr. Solano and his staff for three hours in DC and they found us a place to park and waived our fees! The road guard captains will work out the details. It’s been a long time coming. Thanks to Mr. Solano.
We are at 56 days now before the Run; it’s time to get the bike serviced and road tested. I am looking at my equipment and thinking about last year. Snow on day one, 88 degrees on day 10. My wife Joanne will be with me this year and I am having packing dreams..how to make it all fit?? After 12 years all the way I think I’ve got it.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone soon. It’s time to get excited and prepared. Be safe and we will see you soon in Rancho.Thank You,
Run For The Wall
February 10, 2012
Well everyone, the countdown as of now is 97 days before we set out on our 24th year of Run For The Wall.
We have gotten really good at organizing and executing the longest and largest motorcycle run across America. I know that our staging, fueling, road guards, ambassadors, chase crews, chaplains, platoon leaders and all the leadership volunteers are busy getting ready. They are having meetings & phone conferences with state coordinators who in turn are organizing thousands of other volunteers for our mission across the United States. Wow. It’s all done by volunteers. I am so proud of this organization and inspired by the riders and the FNG’s.
I was thinking about my first years and how far we’ve come. In 2001 it rained for 6 ½ days. The run was about 200 riders in one long, long line. Riders would push their bike up to the staging area before dawn, sometimes in their undies, to be near the front of the pack. The “rubber band effect” was crazy, 0 to 70 to 0 all day. The road guards, Cookie, JR Franklin, Peaches, Walrus, just to name a few had to race ahead and guide the bikes in, fuel them up, and park them. Then they would race ahead and do it again at the next stop. We didn’t have fuel crews and staging crew then. We’ve come along way but we’ve kept the good stuff, like the catfish in IndianaJ
Everything looks great for another run this year. Your route coordinators are finalizing itineraries and getting ready to submit them to the Board of Directors; soon they will be out for print.
Next year is our 25th year and we are working on some very special things. I had a look at our 25th year coin - they are so nice but they are top secret for now!! I will let you know when you might see one.
So everyone get ready. The clock is ticking. Spring will be here soon, get yourself and your bike ready. Don’t forget your local motorcycle safety programs are fun and informative.
Till the Day,
Run For The Wall
January 21, 2012
Hello everyone! I wanted to take this opportunity to post some hotel information that is coming together. The host hotels in Ranch Cucamonga are out of “block” rooms for RFTW but they do still have rooms, just at the regular rates. Due to the economy many hotels must also take care of their repeat customers as well as groups and cannot extend themselves as far as they may have in the past. Make sure you have all your reservations asap if you haven’t already.
The news I get from the coordinators, BOD and riders is that we are on track and gearing up for another GREAT Run For The Wall. Some folks are posting and planning rides to California from all over the country. I always get excited when the “Runs to the Run” start their organizing and posting.
Even though winter has some riders in hibernation it’s a good time to check out your bike. Is your gear still in good condition and ready? Do you need tires, fresh oil? For all of you FNG’s, think about what to pack and how to carry it. It can be fun for those of us who have been around awhile to see all the crazy bungee cord combinations that people come up with. However these same folks would often have sleeping bags, tents, pads, bottles of water etc sliding down the highway becoming road missiles. Please be careful of that. There are good racks and nice bike luggage around now, try to make sure your load is secure! Of course I do miss all the junk flying off the bikes just a little…..:)
At any rate, check your cables, clutches, brakes and dial in your handlebar gizmos before the Run. As you FNG’s will soon find out, you only see the tail lite in front of you for 10 days and it will be impossible to retrieve the stuff that flies off your bike..
May I suggest that everyone read our history and mission statement once or twice before May. It will help you to remember and focus on why the heck you are out in the middle of nowhere with all these bikers.
Until the day,
December 17, 2011
Hello Everyone and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah,
People often say to me how fast time seems to go by. I would have to agree; here we are one week from Christmas. What a week it’s been for our troops! The command in Iraq is over and our troops are returning home to our communities, to their families and loved ones every day.
I remember another time when we had a lot of soldiers coming home in the 60’s and 70’s. I can’t help but remember how many needed assistance and a kind word. I am grateful for all of you, for our Run for the Wall family, because I know we care. We are here for our POW, MIA and active duty troops and their families affected by this war and all war. I will remain hopeful that our government and our people understand the importance of supporting our military’s families.
Last weekend I was attending the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach CA. It was fun to see all the riders and bikes. Motorcycles are really amazing these days with all their features and power. It was great also to see so many vets and military at the show.
As for this year’s Run, all reports to me are positive and on target for another great Run for the Wall. Hotel lists and on-line registration are coming to life and itineraries are in the works. New patches and merchandise will be in soon and stocked.
In closing I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I am honored to be a part of our family; please take a moment during your individual celebrations to think of our Gold and Blue Star families.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you all enter this holiday season with your loved ones near your sides.
The Route Coordinators and State Coordinators are working hard to finalize hotel accommodations on both routes and be able to submit the list to you next month.
Gene Adee, our Southern Route Coordinator, has resigned his position making Laurie Clay, aka “Airborne” the Southern Route Coordinator for 2012. We will miss Gene, he has done a great job, but he will be helping in the transition and we will all give Laurie our full support and gratitude. She will be selecting her Assistant Coordinator soon. I am excited for her and I know she’ll work hard to move into this position.
In other news, I will be assisting Dave Hampton with the merchandise this season. So far I think he will be ordering the inventory and I will get to fold it all. J We will be working it out and focusing on sell, sell, sell! RFTW merchandise makes everything we do possible. So…. Need any new patches, t-shirts or XMAS gifts soon? Send orders!
Finally, as a member of the RFTW family I am asking for some proactive healing. We have an opportunity to send a monthly package to a unit being deployed to Afghanistan. These soldiers are excited about the RFTW folks helping them and it’s a great feeling for us as well. Please call or email John Barker to get involved.
Once again, Happy Thanksgiving and peace through the holidays to you and your family.
I was just thinking about Veteran’s Day, as I have been all week. Every year I receive links to so many wonderful service related events around the country and also to people’s writings of tragic memories of wars and battles past. Reflecting on the decades of war this country has been involved in and the countless lives affected by war is incomprehensible to me and saddens me greatly.
Then I think about my involvement with Run for the Wall and I am uplifted in spirit and so grateful to have a ‘thing’ that I do to heal and be with veterans and supporters who ‘get it’. And, oh yes, we ride motorcycles. How good is that? So as Veteran’s Day closes in I am fortunate to have run for the Wall to lift my (our) spirits.
I would like to thank all our veterans for your service. To all affected by war please continue to stay involved with veteran’s issues. It will bring you healing and reward.
I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving Day and a peaceful Veteran’s Day.
Run for the Wall
I just got home from the Southern Route reunion in Kerrville, TX. My wife Joanne & I had a great time and enjoyed the festivities very much. Last month I attended the Eagles Nest reunion – Central Route. I have been a Central Route rider for eleven years and always enjoy the reunions.
My impression in Texas was WOW. The folks that make up our organization “Run For The Wall” are awesome. We are one mission with two routes. Lots of fun and laughs are to be had any time our family gets together.I am always impressed by the dedication and generosity of our people. The level of cooperation and selfless voluntarism that drives our runs is a tribute to all that participate in “Run For The Wall”.
Our next board meeting will be in November. I will post that activity. Things are really getting on tract for 2012. The Coordinators are nailing down our hotel lists, merchandise is being ordered and printed, Road Guard Captains are forming up their cadres, the DC Coordinator is working to set our schedule of activities there & Registration folks are in place and will be receiving their supplies etc. soon. Things move along steadily this time of year with a lot of people working on our behalf. I want to THANK all of you for your participation.
I would like to encourage all of you to start thinking about the Run this year. Winter will be setting in soon for many of you so get out and ride! Practice keeping lane position. There may be a class in the Spring that you may be interested in. I will be taking another “Experienced Rider’s” course this Spring myself. Generally I find those courses fun. Good people and no written testsJ.I am looking forward to the Run this year already. I am going to work as an Ambassador with my wife on the Central Route.
Drop me an email or call anytime. Thank you all for your support of “RFTW” and our deployed forces.
BOD decision reversed
September 9. 2011
Last Tuesday, Sept 6th, I called for a special BOD meeting that was to take place tonight, Thursday Sept. 8th. I needed to address the decision the BOD had made last month in Tulsa. The decision made was that in the future the BOD would be made up of veterans only. Last weekend I announced this decision during the Riders Forum in Angel Fire, NM.
Thank you for all the responses that the BOD has received by phone, email and through the Forum regarding this decision. We need to hear your opinion, thoughts and suggestions, not just now but always.
As simply as I can condense the reason behind the initial decision is that there was a perceived problem relating to donations being made by individuals to non-vet board members. We had concerns that these individuals would believe that they were donating these funds to a veteran when the possibility existed that the person receiving the donation would not actually be a veteran. We had concerns that this could create an issue with some benefactors. It is now clear that even though this ambiguity may exist it cannot constitute changing our BOD structure.
Often issues become much clearer when the BOD has input from our rider family rather than sitting in a board room trying to problem solve any particular issue such as this. I believe RFTW boards have discussed this very matter in previous years. At this point I am confident that the way it has been organized is in fact the best solution. We have and will remain a board made up of 7 individuals, 4 (minimum) of which will be veterans.
I do not believe this action was brought to the BOD in some power shift or resentment towards anyone or any group. Please trust in the fact that the BOD is receptive and considerate of all the feelings of all our family. As the current year President, I personally want to offer my sincere apology to all that are hurting or feel that they have been hurt from this.
Please stay involved with the BOD. I will be posting in the President’s message on the RFTW web site the monthly activities of the BOD. Thank you for all the input; it made the difference here.Our next meeting is Thursday Oct. 6th .
Allow me to reiterate that tonight we have reversed our previous vote, 7 – 0 in favor of keeping the BOD structure the way it was. We are sorry for any anguish we have caused our riders.
It was a pleasure to be in Tulsa for the first annual combined route RFTW reunion. I don’t know the exact number of people who showed up but I believe it was 60 or so. The Board of Directors met all day on Friday and until noon on Saturday. We got a lot done in respect to our specific assigned areas and I believe we all felt great about our ability to work so well together, to stay focused on the mission and the riders. Many of those in attendance took a ride on Saturday followed by a great dinner in an air conditioned banquet hall. Did I mention the outside temps got to 108?? I thought the bikes would sink in to the asphalt it was so hot! A lot of the folks in attendance rode a couple of days to be there. It was great to meet and greet them.
Our Route Coordinators and RG Captains also attended and they are on point and moving forward with plans for 2012. I would like to remind all that RFTW is 100% volunteer and you are needed! If you have the ability to volunteer please contact your specific Route Coordinator. Our State Coordinators that work all year behind the scenes to make our mission what it is also may need a hand.
In just a couple of weeks the Angel Fire Reunion will take place, Sept 2 – 4 and following that the Kerrville, TX Reunion, Sept 23 – 24. These reunions are not “official” RFTW events. They are organized and conducted by interested individuals. I will be attending both get-togethers and am very excited to meet many new folks. This will be my first trip to Kerrville; my wife and I are really looking forward to the trip and festivities. The existing reunions will continue so long as supporters wish to conduct them. RFTW has no control over these events.
Later this year “Too Tall” and “Hard Charger” will be traveling to Arlington to meet and discuss our journey in to Arlington with the Superintendant. It was wonderful to get 400+ bikes in last year so that many of our riders could participate in the laying of our RFTW wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I would like to thank John Barker, Ray McDowell and John Gosser for their excellent work securing our tradition.
Please contact and discuss your thoughts with Run leadership. We truly need your input and feedback.
FYI - Central and Southern Route hotel lists usually come out around mid-December.
Over the next 9 months I will update you regularly regarding Board decisions and information specific to the upcoming Run.
Winter will be here soon; get out and ride and be safe!
God Bless you and your families.
Ross “Compass” Currie
President, RFTW 2011-2012