Kathy Daudistel didn’t set out to make history when she became the first American Legion Auxiliary president to ride her own motorcycle, rather than participate as a passenger, during this year’s Legacy Run.
For Daudistel, traveling from Mobile, Ala., to Oak Creek, Wis., with 200 or so other like-minded individuals was simply fulfilling a goal she’s had since 2006.
“I always wanted to ride this Legacy Run, ever since it first started,” said Daudistel, who has ridden her Harley-Davidson on every leg of this year’s ride, including through a torrential downpour on Day 1. “I rode a leg or two here or there, but I’ve never rode overnight. Now or never, right? I wasn’t thinking about making history. I was thinking more about getting through a whole ride.”
A self-proclaimed “weekend rider” who rides with her sister, Daudistel said she almost immediately felt the same camaraderie on the ride that most participants say they experience.
“Almost instantly you start to feel like a family. Everyone watches out for everyone,” she said. “Just today, alone at the gas stop, a man walked up to me and said, ‘I think your tire may be low. Let’s check it.’ And we had three or four people checking the tire because I don’t do that, obviously. They got it fixed … and they had me set up and ready to roll.
“Everyone cares about everyone. Even when you get to the hotel. They’re always watching out for you. It’s an amazing group of people. I love this group of people.”
She’s also been impressed by the passion the Riders have for the cause: The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund. “Their dedication is outstanding,” Daudistel said. “I have witnessed people just walking around collecting money from their groups to beat the other flights just because they want the bragging rights. Their hearts are so strong and good and large. They’re incredible. Their digging into their own pockets and bringing out pockets.”
One of the highlights for Daudistel was a stop in Mayfield, Ky. – a community devasted by a tornado last December – where the Riders donated $6,650 to American Legion Post 26 there.
“The best part of it, in turn, is (Post 26) had a check for us for the Legacy Fund for $1,000,” said Daudistel, a Kentucky resident. “Service, not self. It was the most incredible event that’s happened in a while.”
But the national president will take away a lot more memories from this year. “I will never forget this,” she said. “It’s been such an incredible week. I’ve made so many new friends. It’s awesome.”