Central Route Coordinator Latest News 2014
Greetings – Hope this finds all of you excited about RUN 2014. It’s hard to believe that it’s only 77 days before we leave Rancho on May 14. Seems we were just celebrating Christmas!
First, thank you for all of the condolences, prayers, and concerns with regards to the death of my Mother. She had been very ill for the last couple of months, so in some respects, her passing was a relief. While it’s never easy to lose someone that you love, it’s been easier knowing she is no longer suffering. Your kind words and thoughts were truly appreciated by my family and me.
Here in Ohio, we’ve had a three day tease – with temperatures in the 55 - 60 range. I was tempted to get the bike out to "practice!" However, that was short lived, as we had snow flurries this morning and the high for the week is expected to be in the low 30s. I guess I’ll be prepared for that cold morning in Eagle Nest, NM. Needles, CA would sure feel good about now!
While there is excitement in the air for RUN, 2014, there are still positions available to be filled. We’ve had a few folks who committed for various spots, only to be disappointed that they will not be able to participate and have had to back out. For the fuel and staging team, even if you’re only able to participate for a few days, your services can still be utilized and have an impact. If you’re not an FNG and would like to volunteer to assist the Mission, please contact me.
As many of you know, the hotel list has been posted. With the change in the hotel venue in Rancho, this presents certain challenges. While we may be scattered out over the area more so than in years past, it’s best to keep in mind the Mission and why we do the RUN. Unfortunately, change happens. Everything will get done as it needs to. We will adapt and overcome! Cheers to Carol Olmstead for the extra hard work in resolving these issues and challenges in Rancho.
Now is the time that you should be concentrating on motorcycle preparation. Do tires need to be replaced? Is it time for a new battery? Brakes? Obviously, this is a reminder to make sure that your bike is in top shape prior to leaving for the RUN. We need to minimize the breakdowns that can be avoided. Some breakdowns are not avoidable, but a little preventive maintenance goes a long way. There is a wealth of information on the Forum.
In addition, how’s your health? We go across the desert floor, up in elevation in the mountains, thru the winds on the prairie, and then into the humidity. We experience all temperatures and conditions. I have fond memories of snow in Williams, AZ and torrential rain, hail, & lightening heading into Junction City, KS. I don’t mean to scare anyone off, but this is not a charity ride. While quite gratifying, this is an emotionally and physically exhausting 10 day Mission. And, you have to prepare for it. You may want to discuss the changes in elevation and elements with your physician. Is it the Marines that say "Anything that doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger!" We need to be prepared for anything . . .
And pack accordingly. Which leads right into my next topic ---- what to bring and how to bring it. While everyone has their own list of "what to bring," at the top of the list must be your: medications, bike registration, bike insurance, driver license with motorcycle endorsement, and spare glasses/sunglasses/googles. Again, check the Forum for excellent tips on what to bring and what not to bring and how to pack it.
It’s very exciting as well as an honor to lead the Central Route this year as we start the next 25 years. It’s not about me being the Route Coordinator; it’s about us, all of us, working as a Team. The support I have received from my Leadership Team has been exceptional. The experience and great attitudes of these individuals is what will make this Mission successful.
December 23, 2013 Jenny and I would like to take this opportunity to wish our Run For The Wall Family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Please remember and say a pray for those who are serving our great Country, both abroad and at home. Also remember all of those who serve the public who will be working the holidays, unable to celebrate with their families. And most importantly, remember the true Reason for the Season, the birth of the Baby Jesus!Catfish
Greetings – Happy Veterans Day!
“A Veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, their life.”
With that, I’d like to personally thank all of the Veterans, especially those Veterans associated with the RUN. I have found it a true privilege and honor to be able to participate on the RUN, riding along side and with some remarkable Vets. We must also keep in mind the many Veterans and Veteran Organizations that provide meals and fuel to us along the way. Without these individuals’ hard work and dedication to this event, our trip would not be as enjoyable. They rise early to prepare breakfast and work late for our dinners. We cannot forget the many Veterans that we encounter along the overpasses and roadways, waving flags and cheering us on. I wonder if the “lone supporter” in the torrential downpour outside of Junction City was a Vet. His dedication to our Mission is something that I will remember for a long time.
In addition to Veterans Day, I also want to acknowledge our Marine Buddies with a Happy Birthday to the Marine Corp. The world has never known a greater fighting machine than The United States Marines! Happy Birthday and Semper Fi!
We’re down to about six months before RFTW 2014. I’ve been told it will be here before we know it. My leadership team is just about filled and I cannot think of better individuals to put in these positions. We’re still looking for Road Guards, Staging Team and Fuel Team Members. If you’re planning on going on the CR, and you’re not an FNG, think about how you can help give back to the RUN, getting the pack across this Great Country. Keep watching the website for further information on RUN 2014. Many of you have asked about the hotel list. We are working on finalizing it and will have it posted by January 1.
Again, I would like to say, to all veterans who have given of themselves in service to this Great Nation, a heartfelt Thank You for your commitment, courage, duty, and sacrifice.Catfish
November 6, 2013
Greetings -- This has been a tough week for the RFTW family. I have the unfortunate duty of relaying information of those who are no longer with us.
Jackie McKinney’s father, SFC Don J McKinney, passed away this week. Jackie is the Mayor of Gallup and a longtime RFTW supporter/sponsor. His wife, Sandra, is a past RFTW Board member as well. SFC Don J McKinney served in World War II Army and 87 years old. Burial will be November 11, 2013 at 10:00am at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, 23029 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix Arizona 85024.
Memorial Reception to follow services at Jackie's daughter’s home. Check the forum for any updated information. If you can make it, I KNOW Jackie and Sandra would be so grateful and appreciative for the support. The outstanding reception the Central Route receives in Gallup is all set up by Jackie "Best Man" McKinney.
On November 2, we also lost Joyce Huggins. You may remember Joyce as working with the Hydration Trailer in 2012. In addition, while we were traveling down the road, she would sew on patches for participants. She also had just recently lost her husband, Jimmie, in May, after completing RUN 2013.
From our Colorado family members, we received news that John Filonowich from Kiowa, CO passed away this week, riding home on his new triked out Goldwing. He and his wife Ruthie were FNGs on RUN 2013, and were planning on serving on the Staging Team for CR RUN 2014. His services are schedule for November 7. Please check the forum for more information.
Please keep family and friends of these folks in your prayers.
Two of our RFTW family members have passed away this week. These individuals have participated in the Central Route. If you are in the area, I would encourage you to represent RFTW by paying respects to both of these brothers at their services.
Leonard Reeder from Gallup, NM participated 15 years. He was a Vietnam Combat Vet. Central Route participants may remember that Mr. Reeder and his family were the individuals that started the T-shirts when the RUN stopped at Window Rock. Services will be:
Rosary: Sunday Sept. 29 at 6 pm, Ft. Defiance Catholic Church
Funeral: Monday Sept. 30 at 10 am, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Gallup, NM .... 415 E. Green Ave. Viewing @ 9:30 am before funeral services.
Motorcycle escort from Gallup to Ft. Defiance Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Condolences can be sent in care of Rollie Mortuary, 401 E. Nizhoni Blvd, Gallup, NM 87301.
Joseph “Jomez” Gomez from Mission Hills, CA participated in 3 with plans to participate this year as well. He was a member of our Leadership Team, serving as an Assistant Platoon Leader for Mike “Tanker” McDole, Platoon #1. He had filled this position for the previous two years. His services will be on Wednesday, October 2 at 1 pm. For more information:
Joseph Gomez September 18, 1944 - September 25, 2013
Mission Hills Catholic Mortuary, 11160 Stranwood Ave, Mission Hills, CA 91345
Greetings –What a wonderful weekend we had in Angel Fire. First, let me thank Barbara and her NM Team for all the preparation and hard work that went into making this weekend such an enjoyable event. Upon arriving in Eagle Nest, you could feel the excitement in the air that another great RUN experience was about to happen. And it did. From the RC Meet & Great, to the Angel Fire Bricklaying, Doc’s Birthday celebration, to the Rider’s Forum and dinner, ending with the Bonfire, the weekend was another exciting RUN occasion.
This year, there were 458 bricks laid, with several of them having a connection to RUN participants. Thank you to everyone who took part in this event; it could not have been accomplished without all of the help. It is truly a labor of love for Angel Fire. Yes, we started early and ended late, but I believe that all who participated felt a true connection to this hallowed place. I was honored to receive each of the Medal of Honor Bricks and pass them on the Trent Caster who was actually laying the bricks. This year there were more RUN participants as well as more family members and spectators than in past years.
BOD President Harry and I took advantage of Doc’s Birthday celebration, as Sam Donaldson, news correspondent, was the keynote speaker. We made sure that he knew what the RUN was about, by providing him a few RUN Pins and the 25th Anniversary History Book (thanks to Girlfriend.) Hopefully, he’ll get a few minutes to read the book!
We had the privilege of hearing from General Salas, 2-Star General for NM National Guard. “As long as there are men and women who wear the uniform of the US Military Services, the Vietnam Veterans will NOT be forgotten, because you were there when we came home from overseas!” What an inspiring and uplifting speech we heard. We also had the opportunity to personally thank one of our gas stop sponsors in NM, Tim Triujillo, President of the Independent Riders of Raton. With him, was some of his crew that helped to raise funds and fuel our bikes at that stop.
Since Jenny & I were staying out west for another commitment, we had the privilege of accompanying Barbara and a few other folks to Cochiti Elementary School. Each year, students from this school stand at one of the overpasses on I-25 as we pass under, waving to us. According to the principle, she uses this as an incentive for good behavior and grades throughout the school year. Students who accomplish this, received a 25th Anniversary pin. We pinned 90 students and 10 teachers. I believe that some of these students actually look more forward to the RUN than we do, if that’s possible! Thanks to one of the patches on one of the vests, they learned that they don’t want to be a “traitor!”
We’re now after Labor Day and into September. The RUN will be here before we know it. If you are looking for a place to serve, there is a place for you. Leadership contact information is posted for all of my team leaders. Feel free to contact them do discuss the requirements of their teams. Please don’t be shy to volunteer. While it may take a “village to raise a child,” it takes many more people to get us across country safely!
RFTW 2014 CR-RC
August 26, 2013 -- My wife and I are looking forward to the Angel Fire Reunion. Our NM State Coordinator and Team has put together an awesome weekend for us. We'll be leaving tomorrow and meeting up with other RFTW Folks along the way. To those of you attending, I wish you safe travels and look forward to seeing you in Eagle Nest.
August 13, 2013 -- Greetings!
My name is Ken “Catfish” Ward, the 2014 Central Route Coordinator. I am excited, as well as, honored that the RFTW Board has approved me for this important position with The RUN. Like my predecessor, I, too, am a Navy Man, serving from February 1977 through February 1981. I served aboard the USS Mt. Whitney (LCC-20), the Flagship for Commander Second Fleet/Commander Striking Fleet Atlantic, stationed in Norfolk, VA.
First, let me say thank you to Stan “Ironfish” Handley, the 2013 Central Route Coordinator. It was an honor and pleasure to work under him as his assistant. He provided an excellent example for me to follow, making changes that proved to be invaluable to the CR RUN. He has a love for the RUN and through his leadership, it showed. I learned a lot from him and have a great deal of respect for him. I cannot thank him enough.
My first RUN experience was in 2008. It was shortly after my father died that I stumbled upon the website. I told my wife that “I wanted to do this just one time – all the way – from Rancho to DC, to thank the Vets who returned home from the various conflicts and pay tribute to the ones that didn’t.” We had been to Rolling Thunder for several years, but it just didn’t seem enough. With her blessing, I hooked up through a “Run to the RUN” with Kevin “Murph” Murphy, traveled to Colorado, met up with some awesome RUN folks, and headed to Rancho! As the only FNG of 23 bikes, they threw me right into the fire, riding side by side across I-80 in high winds and cold temps. I was also honored to get to ride the Missing Man Formation. The trip between CO and Rancho was an unbelievable experience, so I knew my first RUN was going to be an event that I would never forget! I’ll forever be indebted to these folks who took me under their wing that first year. I’ve been hooked on and committed to the RUN ever since.
My RUN experience has been unique. In 2008, even though it was my FNG year, I was asked to fill in as a Tail Gunner for Roger “Pops” Hageman’s platoon. His original tail gunner, after two days on the RUN, realized that he could not make it all the way to DC, due to back problems. I also served as his Tail Gunner in 2009, 2010, and 2011. In 2012, when he took the position to lead the Ambassadors, I served as a Tail Gunner for Tom Schultz. My main focus has always been to assist the riders in getting across the country safely. I’ve seen, first hand, the healing the RUN provides to its participants especially to the Vietnam Vets, the Iraq/Afghan Vets, and Gold Star Families. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing reunions of individuals that have been greatly affected by War and its tragedies.
I hope to see a lot of you at our Reunion at Angel Fire on August 30 to September 1. As Harry said in Colorado Springs, they’re not “Unofficial Reunions.” The Reunions are another opportunity for The RUN Family to get together. I had the privilege of attending this Reunion last year. The brick laying is truly a labor of love. My wife and I had the honor of meeting SSGT Leroy Petry, a Medal of Honor Recipient, a true American Hero.
Again, it is an honor and a privilege to be your 2014 Central Route Coordinator. This year, we will have three Routes, One Mission! That Mission is: To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world. Thankfully, most of our leadership from last year will be returning. Our Assistant Route Coordinator for 2014 is Don “EZ” Burns, from Sacramento, CA. Regardless of the Route you choose to ride, there is still a place for all of us to serve the RUN. Please let me know if you have a desire to help the Mission. My focus will be to get all of us, including FNGs, from Rancho to DC, safely. Suggestions to improve the RUN are always welcome. Feel free to contact me thru email: firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone: 513-252-7980(EST).
To our Vietnam Vets, regardless of which Route you ride, Welcome Home! And thanks for your service. It’s an honor to ride with you.
Ken “Catfish” Ward
RFTW 2014 CR RC