Central Route Coordinator Latest News 2017
September 8, 2016
Hello Run For The Wall,
On September 1st, twenty-four of us gathered in Albuquerque, NM, for a ride to the Cochiti Indian Reservation to meet with the school children there. These are great kids and are taught to love America. RFTW is being used as a tool to encourage the children to study. If you don’t study, you don’t get to be on the bridge over I-25 to watch the pack go by in May. After saying good-bye to the children, we followed the RFTW route to Angel Fire, NM.
Over the Labor Day weekend, 125 riders, mostly from the Central Route, gathered in Eagle Nest for our annual reunion. The sidewalks at Westphall Vietnam Memorial at Angel Fire are lined with Commemorative Bricks bearing a veteran’s name. There are bricks honoring veterans from all wars, going back to the Revolutionary War. This year, one was laid in memory of a soldier from the Army of the Confederate States of America. Riders from the Central Route are honored to assist in the laying of all the bricks that have been purchased during the year. This year, 387 new bricks and 8 Medal of Honor bricks were placed beside the sidewalks. After all the bricks were in place, we returned to Eagle Nest for a great dinner and a Q & A session with five members of the Board of Directors. I would like to thank Steve “Spuner” Berniklau, Freddie “Crash” Strickland, and Bill “Rocket” Rager for all their work. This was the best one yet.
I joined RFTW in 2009, and since that time we have had one or two riders go down every year. Almost without exception, these were caused by a momentary loss of concentration. I cannot imagine the disappointment a rider experiences after planning for a year or more to do The Run, and then being unable to complete The Mission. My goal for the 2017 Run is to be incident free. As the planning for 2017 goes forward, all aspects of The Run will be addressed with safety in mind. It would be wonderful if all of us could get from LA to DC and home again with no “road rash” or scratched paint.
The Ambassadors, Staging Team, and Fuel Team are all in need of volunteers. If you would like to give back, send your contact information to the team leaders. The contact list is on the new RFTW website: rftw.us
I’ll be posting an update each month as planning for 2017 continues.
Dick “Winky” McKay
July 30, 2016
Hi. My name is Dick “Winky” McKay, and it is my honor to have been appointed Central Route Coordinator for the 29th Run For The Wall in 2017.
I served in the United States Army as an enlisted man from 1963 to 1967, a year of which I spent in Vietnam.
My first year with Run For The Wall was 2009, an experience I will never forget. Those experiences would bring me back year after year. I chose the Central Route because it came through Colorado where I live, and I’ve been a Central Route guy ever since. In 2009 and 2010, I rode with the Pack. In 2011, I decided that the Run had done so much for me I should give something back. I joined the Staging Team and served in that capacity for five years, the last two as Staging Leader. A year ago, Dave “Papa Smurf” Klemme asked me to be his Assistant Route Coordinator for 2016. After giving it a great deal of thought, I accepted. This year has been an incredible learning experience, and I would like to thank Dave for all his guidance and support. RFTW 2016 was one of the best Runs I have experienced due, in no small part, to Dave’s meticulous planning. Dave will be returning as Mentor so I will be able to draw on his expertise during this year’s planning as well as during the Run itself.
I have asked Harlan Olson to be my Assistant Route Coordinator and he has graciously accepted. Harlan has been doing the Run since 2007 and has served as Assistant Platoon Leader, Platoon Leader, Staging Leader, and three years on the Board of Directors.
Our Leadership Teams will remain essentially intact for 2017 with only a few changes. After an exceptional Run this year, Tom Miller will return as Road Guard Captain, and Ken “Nick “ Nicholas will return as Tom’s assistant. The leadership for our other Support Teams--Staging, Fuel, Registration, Ambassadors, Chaplains, Leadership Support, Hydration, Merchandising, Last Man, and our Platoons Leadership--will remain much the same as last year.
We have had some long-time State Coordinators step down after years of service to the Run. Fortunately, they have had strong people to take over. Without our State Coordinators, Run for The Wall would have a very difficult time indeed. These folks work throughout the year to make sure our passage through their states goes smoothly. The meals, gas stops, LEO support, and favorable hotel rates are all handled by the State Coordinators. We owe them our gratitude.
If you have ridden with the Central Route, you know about the relationship RFTW CR has with the students of Rainelle Elementary School of Rainelle, West Virginia. The recent floods did not damage the school, but many of the families lost everything. RFTW is raising money to buy the children winter coats. If you would care to donate, you can do it on the website, using your credit card, or you can make a check payable to:
c/o Ken Ward, Treasurer
1766 South Erie Hwy
Hamilton, OH 45011
You may want to specify your donation in the Memo area of your check.
Our next major event will be September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in Angel Fire, New Mexico. The David Westphall Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park walkways are lined with commemorative bricks. Every Labor Day weekend, RFTW arrives on Friday and spends Saturday laying all the bricks that have been purchased in the past year. After we finish laying the bricks, we have dinner at the Eagle Nest Senior Center. This will also present an opportunity to have a Q & A session with some of the RFTW Board members. The cost of the dinner is $20.00. Details for Angel Fire can be found on page 36 of the 2016 Itinerary. I would like to thank Steve Berniklau, our NM state Coordinator, and Freddie “Crash” Strickland for all the work they have done to ensure this year’s Angel Fire Reunion will be a great success.
I will be posting monthly updates throughout the year to keep everyone apprised of the progress of the planning for 2017. I will also be posting a Master Roster of all key personnel.
Dick “Winky” McKay