Eugene L. Davis, from Post 21 in Tipton, Ga., pours water out of one of his riding boots at a lunch break after a rainy start to Day One of the American Legion Riders Legacy Run. (Photo by Tom Strattman)

Legacy Run Day 1: 'The cause' trumps the rain

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American Legion Social Media Manager Steve B. Brooks is driving a 2014 Ford Explorer containing the Legacy Run media team throughout the entire ride.

7:10 a.m. – Past National Commander Bob Spanogle is riding along for part of this year’s Legacy Run. Spanogle was national adjutant when the Run started in 2006. He remembers a stop along that ride at Fort Leavenworth, during which the commander of the base was one David Petraeus. The Run got to “parade the post,” Spanogle says, and Petraeus saluted as it went by. The Run has grown by leaps and bounds since then – a fact that doesn’t surprise Spanogle. “When you have a program or activity that generates interest like this, it’s going to grow and keep growing,” he says.

7:16 a.m. – At the road captain briefing at Post 64 in Indianapolis, National Commander Daniel Dellinger closes the meeting with “God bless the work you all are doing.”

7:22 a.m. – During the all-rider briefing, Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan of Virginia is succinct. “We might have rain,” he says. “So suit up. We’re not stopping.” Sussan's warning proved prophetic.

7:27 a.m. – Sussan has been on all eight previous Legacy Runs and spent the past few heading up the advance team. “It’s a big deal, and it’s an honor,” he says of being asked to lead the ride. “Not many people get to lead this many bikes. But we have a lot of good road captains. When you don’t have good road captains, that’s when you have problems.”

8 a.m. – Sussan leads the 314 motorcycles and 71 passengers out of the Post 64 parking lot; folks stand along each side of the entrance into the parking lot waving flags.

10:06 a.m. – Shirley Joynt, a member of the Legacy Run’s advance team and a Rider from Post 32 in Saginaw, Mich., preps for the gas stop at the Flying J Truck Stop in Walton, Ky. She says it’s important to expect the unexpected at fuel stops. “You never know exactly how it’s going to go until it happens,” she says. “And when something does happen, you need to roll with the change. It’s a challenge, but we make it work.”

12:44 p.m. – Members of Man O’ War Post 8 in Lexington, Ky., wait for the Run to arrive at Man O’ War Harley-Davidson, where a hot dog lunch awaits it. Post Commander Ron Wash says, “It’s amazing we are able to participate in this Run. You’re always proud to be a part of something this important.”

1 p.m. – The Run pulls into the Harley store parking lot amid a pretty nasty downpour that has been hitting for the past hour or so. Burt Simon, a member of Post 14 in West Virginia, said that this kind of rain normally would cause him to pull over. “But you can’t stop a group this big,” he says. “So you just need to be awful careful and make sure to extend your stopping distance. And you really need to pay attention to the people around you.”

2:44 p.m. – At the gas stop in Clay City, Ky., Sharon Sculthorpe – a member of the advance team – notices my shoes are wet and offers some advice: sticking newspapers in them will absorb the water overnight. I tell her I likely will need to put coffee filter packs in as well to absorb the scent.

2:51 p.m. – I’m disappointed to find out that the six-pack of Ale 8 in returnable bottles advertised on a sign in front of the Gulf Station is actually a soft drink.

3 p.m. – Run videographer Derek Tow throws up in the bathroom of the Gulf station. He says it’s probably from bad coffee he got earlier on the ride.

4:03 p.m. – While driving along the Bert T. Coombs Mountain Parkway, Public Image Ltd. starts playing on Sirius’ First Wave. I think Run photographer Tom Strattman is humming along; I look over and see he’s actually fallen asleep and might be grunting to it.

6:45 p.m. – In a drizzling rain, the Run pulls into Pikesville, Ky., where part of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud took place. There’s no gunfire today.

7:05 p.m. – National Commander Dellinger rode in the sidecar of Earl Ruttofsky, past national commander of the Sons of The American Legion, all day but has no complaints about the weather. “The windshield really blocked most of the rain,” he says. “But it was a great day. Nobody got hurt in the rain, and that’s the big thing. And we’ll be fine because we all know it’s about the cause. We’re here to show how dedicated we are to this cause.”

7:09 p.m. – The day’s weather isn’t lost on Rev. Ron Brown during his evening prayer. “We often had rain coming down, but we know it’s holy,” he says.

7:20 p.m. – More than $20,000 is donated to the Legacy Fund during check presentations, bringing the total to nearly $280,000.


Today: The Run departs Pikesville and makes stops in Grundy, Va., and at Post 3 in Salem, Va., before finishing up at Post 325 in Danville, Va.

Follow the 2014 Legacy Run here, on Facebook and on Twitter using hashtag #LegacyRun.