CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several hundred motorcyclists, many being military veterans, came thundering onto state Capitol grounds in Charleston on Thursday morning.
The bikers are part of the Run For The Wall XXXII 2022, the largest organized motorcycle run in the USA that goes from coast-to-coast to honor all veterans, current military, and fallen military members. Around 400 motorcycles were in Charleston.
The ride began in Ontario, California May 18 and is scheduled to end May 29 from the Vietnam Veterans Wall in Washington D.C.
“We have all different backgrounds. We ride different brands of bikes. We have grandmas and grandpas and sons and daughters that ride. We have Gold Star moms and we have patriots. It’s just great to meet people from all four corners of the United States,” Ted Kapner with Run for the Wall and rider from Prescott, Arizona told MetroNews.
While at the state Capitol, riders walked around the complex with many taking photos of the military memorials and meeting local residents who were standing on the sidewalks waving when the run rode in.
Krista Ertel, a rider from Inman, South Carolina told MetroNews her favorite part of the trip is meeting veterans.
“My favorite highlights are getting to see the veterans that come out and watch us. So they know that they are not forgotten and they are still loved,” she said.
Ertel, who was emotional talking about her father who served in the military, said she’s been riding since 2013 to honor him. She said it was good to be back on the route after the entire event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.
“I missed the people, missed the ride and the community, and just what it does for our veterans,” Ertel said.
After visiting Charleston, the riders then rolled to Rainelle Elementary School in Greenbrier County for a program with students and a special donation of funds. Kapner said through the trip across the country the bikers raise money in different ways.
Kapner said there is a ‘Patriot Bucket’ that riders donate to, to honor veterans they know. Kapner gave money to honor his father who is an Air Force veteran. He also said the different platoons on the route have platoon challenges and military challenges to raise money.
On Wednesday night, the riders were at Nitro’s Living Memorial Park for a ceremony.