Longtime American Legion Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Dick Woods asked the crowded banquet hall at Kenneth N. Dowden Wayne Post 64 in Indianapolis Aug 17 how many new riders there were to the run. Dozens held their hands up.
Woods had simple advice for the newcomers: "Be vigilant about what's going on around you. And when it looks like it's disorganized, I promise you that it's not."
Woods will be leading possibly the largest Legacy Run group ever out of Indianapolis Sunday morning, as more than 400 participants have registered. During the annual event on the eve of the Run, Woods went over safety tips that covered not only riding, but staying hydrated in the heat that will hit as early as the Tuesday stage of the run.
Woods was one of several speakers to address the mass of Legion Riders, joining National Commander James E. Koutz, Department of Indiana Commander Ed Trice, Post 64 Commander Michael Cox and members of the Royal British Legion Riders.
David Gibson, a member of the British Riders and participant in the 2010 Legacy Ride to Milwaukee, is selling pins during this year's Run and will donate the money raised from the sale to the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund. "We are pleased to be here and proud to support our brothers in arms," Gibson said. "You guys are our brothers and sisters from across the water."
Cox called the ride participants "amazing people doing an amazing job," while Koutz offered words of encouragement and was on the receiving end of more than $80,000 in Legacy Scholarship Fund donation, including $8,000 from the Indiana Blue Star Salute program and $6,188 from Post 737 in Lake Milton, Ohio. Legion Riders Chapter 500 from nearby Speedway, Ind., also donated $11,000 to Koutz's pet project, Operation Comfort Warriors .
"It's a very important job you're about to do in the next five days," Koutz told the Riders. "We need to take care of the children of our fallen comrades. That's why we're here."
American Legion Social Media Manager Steve B. Brooks will be covering the Legacy Run from start to finish. Check for updates on Facebook  and Twitter . Participants also are encouraged to tweet about their experience on the Run using hashtag #LegacyRun.
Today: The Legacy Run, sponsored by USAA,  will depart Indianapolis and head east through Illinois and Missouri, making stops at Post 120 in Effingham, Ill., and the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James, Mo.