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by Roger Norfolk
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Run for 2022 is in the books.
The run is to raise funds for children of U.S. military members who died while on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, or children of post-9/11 veterans having been assigned a combined disability rating of 50 percent or greater by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The run left Mobile, Ala. Aug. 21 and arrived in Milwaukee Wis., Aug. 25., from the Gulf to the Great Lakes through a land of crops and beauty.
Each day had highlights, and I will tell you of my favorites. Unfortunately, one of the most experienced riders, Dave Schoonover, from Kansas, was killed in an accident on his way to Mobile. We rode with a dedication to him.
The prep days of classes and organization are a family reunion of sorts. During our first assembly, as donations were taken, Cheryl King and I were privileged to make the donation for the Marion Iowa Post 298 family (and friends).
The money and checks were: $10 from a coffee buddy, $40 from hat profits, $50 from some friends of Cheryl, $200 from Cheryl and husband, $200 from me and my wife, $500 from Unit 298, $500 from Squadron 298 and $2,966.31 from Legion Riders Chapter 298, for a grand total of $4,466.31.
Day 1 (Sunday) went from the USS Alabama battleship in Mobile to Tupelo, Miss.
On the first day of each run there are new people just learning and experienced riders recalling their convoy skills. The memorable part of this day was the intensity and duration of the rain.
I have ridden in the rain many times in my 12 other Legacy Runs, but this was the hardest. My jeans didn’t dry until Wednesday.
Day 2 (Monday) was my emotional day of the run.
We had lunch at the Tennessee Veterans Home in Humbolt. There were quite a few residents out to see the motorcycles.
Most of us shook every veteran’s hand. I saluted one gentleman who had miniature medals on his cap for Purple Heart, Bronze Star and others. We both teared up a bit.
Our next stop was the town of Mayfield Ky. that was almost erased about a year ago. I spoke to a couple law enforcement officers about the storm – their comments included a missing mail truck they thought had been stolen that was found in a tree.
The Riders took up a collection and gave $6,000 to the city – they turned around and gave us $1,000 for the scholarship.
Resiliency and generosity of those who were scrambling to get along. We ended up the day in Paducah Ky.
Day 3 (Tuesday) went from Paducah to Litchfield, Ill. with a stop in Perryville Mo.
I still think of Missouri as my home and didn’t know the Missouri National Vietnam Veterans Memorial exists. It is a full-size replica of the Wall in D.C.
Many of our Riders are Vietnam veterans – so there were many Riders remembering friends with sadness.
Day 4 (Wednesday) went from Litchfield to Belvidere, Ill.
We stopped at the Department of Illinois Legion Headquarters, but the major event of the day was in Marseilles, Ill. at the Mideast Conflicts Memorial.
It is similar to the Vietnam Memorial with names on walls, but a different shape. There were Gold Star parents in our group and many of the young Riders served in that conflict and lost friends.
Day 5 (Thursday) was a short day going from Belvidere to Post 434 in Oak Creek, Wis.
I must give a small comment – Illinois and Wisconsin have some of the worst secondary roads I’ve experienced. Many of my body part warranties were violated in that part of the run.
We stopped at Union Grove at the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial. It is a National Cemetery. Hundreds of headstones in perfect alignment. The Kick Stands Down/ End of Mission was emotional as always as we say goodbye to friends for another year.
From the Kick Stands Up in Mobile to the End of Mission in Oak Creek, I rode 1,308 miles. From my house to back home, the adventure was 2,594 miles.
Throughout the run we repeated the words and philosophy of “Be The One.” Be that one person to befriend and listen to another in distress. You can save a life.
The Legacy Run is an annual reunion with members of the Legion and others with a singular purpose to raise funds for the children of the fallen and disabled. In all of our efforts in the four pillars, caring for the children of the fallen is one of the most sacred.
The 2022 Run raised a record $1.32 million.
Pictures of the Legacy Run can be found at https://www.legion.org/riders/photos
Videos of the Legacy Run can be found at https://www.legion.org/riders/videos
The Those Who Care interview of Roger Norfolk and Cheryl King is at https://youtu.be/zWqdDljtehM
Editor’s note: Roger Norfolk is a native of Palmyra now living in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.