Hundreds of motorcyclists will stop briefly in Tuscaloosa next week during an 11-day ride across the country that starts in California and ends at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.

The annual Run for the Wall attracts more than 1,800 riders who take one of three routes from Ontario, California to the Wall in DC. The cross-country odyssey is to honor veterans, their families and their friends, and to raise awareness for Prisoners of War and the Missing in Action from all branches of the United States military.

Participation in RFTW is open to all, regardless of veteran status or age, and each year the event draws veterans, active-duty military, patriots, supporters, friends and family members and more.

The Southern Route brings hundreds of riders through Tuscaloosa, and next week, they'll return for a short stop at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center on Loop Road before continuing northeast.

A spokesperson for the VA said this year is expected to draw 400 riders.


Tuscaloosa Thread logo
Get our free mobile app

Jerry "Sparks" Leckness, the Alabama State Coordinator for the Run, said the ride is for those who can't make it themselves.

“We experience tremendous patriotism in every community we visit. Along our route we see American flags and people young and old who have come out to meet with us and to cheer us on," Leckness said. "They greet us on overpasses and along the city streets, waving flags and cheering as we enter their communities. They welcome us into their homes, churches, and organizations. They nourish us. They encourage us. They keep us going when the going gets tough. They help us ‘Continue the Mission.’”

Leckness has made the Run before and said the reception they receive from staff and residents at the Medical Center is an annual highlight.

“This has always been a great event for the Veterans at the medical center and they look forward to our arrival. They line the street waving flags and cheering. I get tears in my eyes every time we roll into the VA Medical Center. This is why I ride," he said. "On my first run, I saw the healing powers of the run. I listened as Veterans were able to open up about their combat-related feelings, and I saw them weeping as they placed both hands on the Vietnam Memorial Wall where the names of their fallen friends are engraved. I ride for them. I ride as a matter of honor and duty.”

The stop in Tuscaloosa will take place next Tuesday, May 21st. They are expected to arrive at the VA Medical Center at 3701 Loop Road at 9:54 a.m. and depart at 11:14 a.m.

Top Stories from the Tuscaloosa Thread (5/6 - 5/13)

7 of the Top Stories published by the Tuscaloosa Thread during the 20th week of 2024, a peaceful and slow news week in west Alabama.

Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

More From Tuscaloosa Thread