ODESSA, Tx. (KOSA) Community members gathered in Odessa on Friday to honor veterans and welcome a group of more than one hundred motorcycle riders.
The Run for the Wall Southern route motorcycle riders stopped by Crossroads Church for a break and to have dinner provided by a local restaurant.
Two hundred seventy-seven people and 188 motorcycles are riding in the group to Washington D.C. The organization’s goal is to remind the community of the thousands of men and women still unaccounted for from wars, to honor the memory of those killed in action, and to promote healing for veterans.
The mission is a 10-day ride that starts in Ontario, California and ends at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Community members who are veterans and non-veterans participate in the ride that is also open to all ages.
One man who’s ridden in the Run for the Wall for five years, Jerry Lanier, explained the importance of the ride.
“It’s a mission, it’s a pilgrimage if you will,” Lanier said.
Another motorcycle rider, Larry Herrera, said it’s important to provide a “welcome home” to all veterans, but especially Vietnam War veterans.
“For me, it’s an opportunity to serve, to show these guys that they’re not forgotten. And we’re here to serve you,” Herrera said.
Crossroads Church member Roxxie Barreno helped coordinate the event. Barreno said it’s an honor that their church can be used to bless others by providing a place for fellowship.
Barreno said the ride impacts her heart and her family, because her husband served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Throughout his over eight-year military career, Barreno’s husband knew some in the military who died in service to their country.
“We’re just really excited that he’s one of the ones that got home. So the Run for the Wall runs for those that don’t get the opportunity to come back home. And so on a personal level, that is very dear to us,” she said.
The Run for the Wall riders brave severe weather on their trip to Washington, D.C.
Lanier said he has experienced torrential downpours in the past five years. The Dallas suburb resident said other groups have been faced with lightning, snow, and ice.
“We’d have patches we named the Tennessee title wave. Trucks were going one direction and their water was going over the suicide wall and splashing us. So water was coming at us like a title wave. When you have 300 or 400 bikes, when you push play, this train doesn’t stop. It would have to be almost earth ending for us to stop on the road,” he said.
Ride participants said spreading awareness of the issues that outlive the times of war creates a unique bond.
“You create this kinship this brotherhood, these men and women and it changes you forever. It gets in your heart, it gets in your soul,” Lanier said.