Hundreds of Bikers Stop In Topeka For "Run For The Wall" Ride

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TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- A journey from one end of the country to the other, made a pit-stop in Topeka Monday morning.

13 News heard the stories of people who are riding for those who can't, all the way to Washington D.C.

Motors revving, flags waving, the strong wind on Monday morning brought in hundreds of bikers to the heart of the country to refuel on gas - and support - as they complete the last part of the Run For The Wall ride.

Every year, thousands of bikers ride from California to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.

"Doc" is one of the national organizers of the run, and did two tours in Vietnam.

"I tell every Vietnam vet, this has got to be on your bucket list. You've got to be on this ride for a 2,500 mile 'thank you,' that's what it boils down to, and thank everyone for what they've done for us."

Doc said reaching their destination, and finally pulling into the mall at the Memorial, is tough, but it gives him a sense of accomplishment.

The ride embraces all veterans and supporters, young and old. People from all over the country join in with their own personal connections to the cause.

Kort Pereira started riding in Bakersfield, California. He didn't go to the Vietnam War because his lottery ticket was 298, but he's still riding for the ones who couldn't be here today. He described Kansas patriotism as the best he's ever encountered.

"It's been overwhelming, what we've seen. People on the bridges, people holding up flags, lined up the entire road. It just brings goosepimples! I don't know how else to say it. It's wonderful."

Bethany Boris rides with her father, who is a Vietnam veteran.

"It's like one, big family, honestly," she said. "Great people, great experience, just getting to meet people from all walks of life."

Ken "Catfish" Ward is the central route coordinator and the leader of the pack.

"It's a remembrance and tribute ride. A lot of Vietnam vets are still seeking healing and closure for that conflict that wasn't really accepted by the public in that era. It's really meaningful for those guys to be around their brothers and sisters."

Frank Birkdoll, a Vietnam veteran from Linwood, says the ride is absolutely healing. He served in the war and lost good friends. His high school best friend's name is on the wall in D.C., so the ride means a lot to him. He didn't ride this year, but made sure he stood along the road to salute his fellow veterans.

"If you can't cry, there's not much use in going, it'll break it out of you one way or another," he said. "I can get emotional just talking about it. When we came back from Vietnam there was no thank you. Today when you come across, there may be one guy on a bridge standing there with a flag, and there may be a whole fleet of people up there waving and shouting. It's an awesome, awesome experience, that people would still think that much of us."

The fuel and turnpike tolls were donated by ABATE, American Legion Post 421 and the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

For more information on Run For The Wall and the routes, just click the link on the right-hand side of this page.