COOKEVILLE – The 28th annual Run For the Wall (RFTW) motorcycle ride will cruise through Cookeville Monday, May 23, and a special guest will lead the ride into town.
Tennessee resident Shaun Meadows, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran injured by an IED on July 31, 2008, while deployed to Afghanistan and a bilateral above knee amputee, will lead the ride into Cookeville. Run For the Wall has multiple goals — serving as emotional healing for veterans riding the route and those encountered along the way, especially those from the Vietnam era; calling attention to prisoners of war and missing in action (POW/MIA); honoring those killed in action (KIA) from all wars; and supporting our military personnel all over the world.
For the past 27 years, a group of veterans on motorcycles along with support staff leave the Los Angeles area and embark on the 10-day journey, an event that is both physically and emotionally demanding, leading to an arrival in Washington, D.C., to the Vietnam Memorial Wall and Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend. The ride is the only motorcycle event allowed to enter Arlington.
An estimated 350 riders are expected to enter town at approximately 4:30 p.m. Monday with a police escort down Jefferson Avenue. Dinner will be provided along with a welcome ceremony at the Leslie Town Centre. The Cookeville-Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau is working with the City of Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee Highway Patrol, local Veterans Service Organizations, and RFTW leadership to coordinate the stop.
“This event gains more and more support each year,” Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Zach Ledbetter said. “We are humbled to be a part of such a special event. With Tennessee resident and wounded veteran Shaun Meadows leading the pack into Cookeville, it’s certain to be the most special Run for the Wall stop we’ve hosted.
“We are excited to show RFTW the hospitality we are so well known for and encourage all businesses and locals residents to join us in making Cookeville a memorable part of this national route,” Ledbetter added.
Local residents are encouraged to line the streets to provide a proper welcome as the parade of bikes make their way down Jefferson. Businesses along the parade route are encouraged to show their support by placing American flags in front of their businesses, adding welcome messages to marquees, etc.
After their stay Monday night, riders will stage for their 9 a.m. departure in the Sam’s Club parking lot to continue their journey.
For more information about Run For the Wall, go to http://www.rftw.org/.