American Legion Social Media Manager Steve B. Brooks is following The American Legion Legacy Run, sponsored by USAA, for the fourth year.
5:45 a.m. – My attempt at a beard has left me looking like Richard Reid, the attempted shoe bomber.
6:45 a.m. – The Riders get together with videographer Derek Tow to record a troop support message for U.S. servicemembers. Dave Schoonover of Post 68 in Hutchinson, Kan., says the video will hopefully be seen in Headline News. “It’s a chance for the troops to know how much they mean to us,” Schoonover says. To another topic: the final day of the Run. “It’s sadness – no, it’s sadness and happiness,” Schoonover says. “You feel good because we’ve raised a lot of money for a great cause. But then you have to part ways. It’s ‘see you next year.’ I’ve made some great friends on the Legacy Run, guys that I keep in touch with all the time. And then there are some people that you don’t even know their name, but the minute you see them again you give them a hug. It’s great camaraderie.”
7:05 a.m. – Chief Road Captain Dick Woods thanks all the riders for their part in making it another successful Run, then delivers a shout out to all the road captains and guards, the folks who help at the gas stops and the advance team. The last group deserves a special mention, I think. These guys miss out on all the cool arrivals at each stop in order to perform a very important function. And they do so at the crack of dawn. So... well done, folks.
7:17 a.m. – Woods also praises photographer Amy C. Elliott for all her hard work on the Run. Well done, Amy. Amy then takes a photo of all the women participating in this year’s Run.
7:27 a.m. – Newly elected Department of Texas Commander Jim Fleming has been riding on the Run since it left Indianapolis. He even traveled with the advance team when it crossed the Red River into Texas so he could help lead the run into his state. “That was such an honor,” Fleming says. “I had tears in my eyes.”
8:46 a.m. – At Mile Marker 662 on I-10 East, folks stand along the frontage roads off the highway holding banners and flags. Many are wearing Legion caps. This scene repeats itself several times over the next few miles
9:19 a.m. – Crows and buzzards are circling over a field alongside the road, causing me to wonder if there are dead bodies in the field. Amy says she’s seen two dead bodies in her life; both were successful suicide attempts off of her building in NYC.
9:32 a.m. – We drive through the town of Nada, Texas. The name says it all.
10:08 a.m. – We arrive at Buc-ee’s truck stop in Wharton, Texas. What I think looks like a beaver on the store’s sign is a woodchuck, according to Amy. We bet on who’s right.
10:15 a.m. – A clerk at Buc-ee’s tells me it’s a beaver.
10:20 a.m. – Amy pays me my dime.
10:30 a.m. – The Run arrives at Buc-ee’s to refuel both their bikes and guts. Buc-ee’s is way more than a normal truck stop. Folks have a choice of eating made-to-order sandwiches, Mexican food, fresh-baked goods, a variety of BBQ options and more jerky than I’ve ever seen in one location in my life.
2:18 p.m. – League City Post 554 Commander Michelle Dry stands alongside several other Post 554 family members, waving to the Run and saluting as it pulls into the post parking lot. She puts her hand on her chest when asked what it means to have the Run end at her post. “It’s an honor, and it’s been a commitment to have this happen for us for almost a year,” she says. “So many good people were behind making this happen, and it’s such an honor that it’s happened. I can’t really say anything more than that without starting to cry.”
2:25 p.m. – Dominick Cap of Post 1080 in Joliet, Ill., just finished up his third Run. “It’s a feeling of accomplishment to get through all that we’ve gone through to get to the end,” he says. “It’s an honor to ride with these guys. And when you pull into town and see kids on the side of the road waving and cheering for you, you start tearing up, because that’s what this ride is for.”
2:30 p.m. – Vendors have tents set up all over Post 554’s property. There are motorcycle businesses, radio station 93Q FM, a shaved ice truck and others.
2:40 p.m. – National Commander Jim Koutz rode every day of the Run and loved it. “We had some rain, and we had some sand, and it was all great,” Koutz says.
3:20 p.m. – The ceremony begins. A local kid plays the national anthem on his saxophone, and the riders hear from League City Mayor Tim Paulissen and members of the city council. Paulissen proclaims the day “American Legion Legacy Run Day.”
3:37 p.m. – Post 554 member Tim McDonald has been growing his facial hair – including a goatee that extends six inches below his chin – for 35 years. If the post raised enough funds for the Legacy Fund, McDonald said he’d cut the goatee. It did, and he does. “It was worth $1,000, baby,” McDonald yells after the trim.
3:48 p.m. – The donations start to pour in – more than $44,000 in League City, bringing the total so far to $334,000. Riders Chapter 2 from Delaware donates $8,124, while Post 16 in Nebraska turns in $6,200. More will come on the convention floor next week. Well done, everyone.