Several hundred motorcycle riders who are making the Run for the Wall along the central route wheeled into Rainelle, W.Va., on Thursday, May 26.
The town of 1,500 has a special meaning for the bikers … and vice versa.
During the first Run for the Wall 27 years ago, turnpike officials wouldn’t allow the lead biker to pay the tolls for all the others. Each of the 300 or so bikes would have had to stop and pay. So they diverted onto U.S. Route 60.
Merry Starkey, who’s riding this year, says the bikers who bypassed the turnpike soon found themselves in Rainelle.
“They had all the kids out waving flags, and the entire town turned out. They opened up their homes and their hearts. They fed these guys; they paid for their gas and just treated them like royalty,” Starkey said.
She says that every year since then, the riders have stopped in Rainelle and presented a check to support the elementary school.
“I know that they’ve been able to get a great computer lab for the kids. With the money last year they opened up a broadcast studio where the kids have their own news station and broadcast the news. And it’s all done by the students here,” Starkey said. “There’s the playground equipment through the years, pretty much anything that the school needs.”
This year, the Run for the Wall riders presented the town with a check for $21,000. Then they saddled up for the final leg of the cross-country trip to Washington, D.C., and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
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