The Connors had been using the spot as their brainstorming headquarters, so it should come as no surprise that they figured it out there.
Forming Returning American Warriors a year and a half ago, Mike and Kari Connors organized the first R.A.W. Run. The run is a motorcycle route, beginning and ending in Deshler, Ohio, for charity, in this case, to aid soldiers returning home from service. The plan is to make the run an annual happening.
The idea for this event, which led to formation of R.A.W. in the first place, came from Jim Eagleson. Riding for the Make a Wish Foundation, and later for the independently as the Wish Run, Eagleson created and put together a similar event for years. It was when he decided to give up the route that the Connors, inspired by the plan, took over the model.
They just needed to find a cause worth riding for.
So, sitting on their porch Mike and Kari made their choice; Veterans. Mike himself is a vet, serving his country for four and a half years as a 2nd Marine. He traveled from Japan to the Middle East during his time in the military, and even took part in Operation Desert Storm.
With the purpose in place, the Connors next needed to pick a route. The Deshler natives chose to begin their run there, with stops scheduled at American Legion Posts in Wauseon, Pioneer, Bryan, Defiance, and back to Deshler. The run totaled 152 miles, according to Connors’ odometer.
There were about 185 riders participating in the run. Connors was happy with the turnout.
“We were very pleased.” He proclaimed.
Single riders paid $15 to ride, and couples paid $20. These fees, along with donations collected along the way, will go toward helping veterans returning home from active duty.
So how will this money help returning vets? Connors wants to help with the smaller details of their lives.
“The VA can only take them so far.”
R.A.W. aims to assist these warriors with things like rent money, car repairs, finding a job, and, in one case, build a wheelchair ramp.
“Every case is different.” According to Connors.
These cases are decided upon by a committee of R.A.W. members. The Connors were careful with how they put said committee together, picking veterans from various service periods ranging from Vietnam Vets to current members of the National Guard.
Connors explained the reasoning behind this practice.
“We wanted to get a broad perspective of what it was like to come home (from service).”
That broad perspective is the key to a successful grassroots campaign, which explains the why R.A.W. is doing so well.
“We’re off to a heck of a start.” Connors admitted.
After their initial kickoff event last year, R.A.W. has been active in the community. They hosted a shoot-off in Deshler, where veterans competed against each other and “have a little fun,” as Connors put it. They’ve also taken part in the Kunkle Parade, and were present in Montpelier to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Anyone seeking more information on the run or the organization as a whole can check out their website, www.RAWRun.org, which has been up for a little over a month and will be updated monthly.
Next, Connors hopes to organize a barbeque between Deshler barbequers Outlaw Attitude BBQ and Tiny’s BBQ within the next year. The next R.A.W. Run is scheduled to take place on August 22 of 2015.
For now, though, the memory of this run is still a fond one.
“It was a lot of fun.”
Certainly more fun than sitting on their porch, to be sure.