Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Riding for those who can't: Run for the Wall stops in Kansas

More than 300 Run for the Wall participants enter the service area under the American and Kansas flags. 

They ride for those who can’t. The 29th annual Run for the Wall began last week in Ontario, Calif., and more than 300 motorcyclists rolled through Kansas, making several stops along I-70. The Kansas Turnpike Authority’s Topeka  EZ-Go service area hosted riders yesterday where they were welcomed by the  KTA, Kansas ABATE chapter and KDOT and the riders were able to refuel and were given water with the  KTA donating $500 of gasoline to the riders. Check out a video of Monday's stop that also features some of the participants -

The KTA donated $500 of gasoline to the riders. 

Run for the Wall recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of veterans who served our nation. According to the Run for the Wall website, www.rftw.us,  the ride promotes healing among all veterans and their loved ones.

Vietnam War Veteran Billl Zimmerman said that part of the reason for the ride is to pay respects to the Vietnam Wall and what it represents.

“It means personal feeling toward the veterans that give up their lives for the country,” Zimmerman said. 

More than 300 Run for the Wall participants stopped at the KTA service area to refuel on their journey across country. 

Dallas Hageman has participated in the Run for the Wall for 10 years and said that the ride exists to honor and recognize those who were Killed in Action, Prisoners of War, or who are Missing in Action.

“We ride for those who can’t,” Hageman said. “So up at the front of the pack we have an open spot we call, ‘The Missing Man Spot,’ and we are all there for that one guy or gal that can’t be there.”

Hageman said that while some riders are not veterans, they ride as a way to say, “thank you,” to those who have served.

 “This is the best way I have found, as a civilian, to give back a very, very small  portion of what they have given to me and that’s my freedom,” Hageman said.
A Run for the Wall participant stops at KTA's Topeka service area.

Ron Maston said that this ride also exists to provide all veterans the opportunity to get their own “welcome home.”

“We are making sure they realize that we appreciate them, that their service meant something and that we are standing behind them all the way,” Maston said.  “It’s an amazing experience for those that participate. To see the healing and the impact on our veterans as we go across the country and to see the outpouring of patriotism, which is still a very strong item in this country.” 

Ride for the Wall began in 1989 and was started by two Vietnam Veterans, James Gregory and Bill Evans, who raised awareness about the thousands of men and women who are still unaccounted for from all wars.

“We don’t give political speeches or stage demonstrations,” the website said. “RFTW gets its message to the public by riding across the United States: coast to coast. 

Bikes line up after receiving fuel before returning to the road. 

The trip is a 10-day journey consisting of three different routes. Each route will come together at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., where the Run for the Wall officially ends.  Along the way, riders are able to stop at various memorials, veteran’s hospitals, schools and parades. 

Run for the Wall riders leave KTA's Topeka service area and return to the road. 

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