It’s a sight you’ll sometimes see near the large Route 66 shield covering the intersection at Second and Kinsley: A Winslow Police Department car blocking traffic in front of the Standin’ on the Corner park.
PD does this so large groups can safely get the ultimate Winslow photo, like this pack of motorcyclists who spread themselves across the shield. Literally.
For Winslow police chief Dan Brown, creating a memorable visit for tourists in a safe environment is key.
As tourists pass through on Route 66, we feel it’s important to continually keep good community relations with our visitors. When people feel welcomed and safe, they tell their friends and family, who later will also visit. It’s an important part of our community and its identity.Chief Dan Brown
Lt. Ken Arend was a great sport, taking funny pictures, shaking hands, smiling for selfies.
There were a lot of big smiles all the way around. Exactly what this group of UK wounded warriors needed.
Bike Tours for the Wounded
BT4TW–a U.K. based motorcycle tour company–understands how transformative wide open roads can be. The UK doesn’t have vast unbuilt horizons like we do, part of why they organize rides in the US, to help servicemen and woman clear their minds.
Each year Bike Tours For The Wounded strives to provide the opportunity for 50 servicemen, servicewomen and veterans to be taken on a motorcycle challenge along Route 66 …. These tours can be both mentally and physically challenging, yet have been proven to be extremely beneficial to those who have taken part whilst at varying stages of their rehabilitation process.From the Bike Tours for the Wounded website
Riders and Beneficiaries
The bikes run two-up. A volunteer—who covers their own costs—pilots the motorcycle for a beneficiary who rides on back. The beneficiaries are all servicemen/women suffering from a range of issues like amputations and blindness, to terminal illness and PTSD. Their costs are 100% covered for the ten-day exploration of Route 66 from the back of a Harley-Davidson. Many have never even been on a motorcycle before. The experience is life-changing for all parties involved.
Founder Darren Clover has a phrase to describe the purpose of Bike Tours for the Wounded:
“Ride, refocus, and decide”
He related a story about a guy blown up in Ireland twenty-eight years ago. The man was lucky. He didn’t lose any limbs. But when he saw servicemen and women coming back from Afghanistan missing arms and legs, he was overwhelmed with guilt. The first two days on the trip, he didn’t speak, stuck in his own world on the back of the motorcycle. Finally, Darren asked if he was okay. The man replied:
“I’m absolutely fine. I’ve spent two days rearranging files. Now I’m deleting files.
The man ended up being one of the most outgoing on the tour according to Darren. That’s what riding pillion across Route 66 can do for someone.
Getting on a bike eases some of the troubles away.”
Rick, a beneficiary, joined the services at 16 and fell off of a prison fence. He was all smiles as he toured Winslow’s historic district, loving the temperature, the people, and the way of life.
“I could live here! It’s spectacular! Can’t believe the hospitality.
David is a volunteer rider who has done several tours. He too says it’s an emotional experience watching the passengers transform.
Totally shifts the state of mind. Seeing the vast landscape is part of getting better. The chance to take a deep breath.David
On the back of David’s bike is a former Royal Marine struggling with psychological trauma. Over the course of the trip, David has seen Gordon come out of his shell.
“These individuals volunteered to go to theater ensuring our freedoms, and people must give thanks.David
David gives his thanks by sharing his love of motorcycling with those who need a truly transformative experience.
“I used to have bad days before this.”Jen Walker
Before this ride, Jen Walker was in a bad place–which is hard to imagine considering the smiles and bundle of energy this petite woman brought to the corner. She seriously glowed as she explored the town and posed for pictures with a fellow female law enforcement officer, NCSO Deputy Toni Creig.
The ride has literally changed my life.”
As Jen’s shirt so aptly says:
Freedom is not free.
A sentiment Winslow Police Chief Brown shares. Not only does he want to honor those who have served, he wants his officers to leave a positive impact on those who visit.
As the saying goes, the police are the ambassadors for the community, and the community should be represented in the police.Chief Dan Brown
Judging by the joy exuding from this group of UK riders, our community certainly left a positive impression.
Tours for the Wounded will return to Winslow again in August, so keep an eye out for them. If you would like to help support a beneficiary, you can do so for around $37 dollars. Go to this link. If you would like to be a sponsor, go to this link! And if you would like to pilot a motorcycle with a beneficiary on back, go to this link!
Many thanks to the Bike Tours for the Wounded folks for brightening our corner in Winslow Arizona and to the Winslow Police Department for making their visit so memorable. Thanks to all of you for your service.
Welcoming Veterans in Winslow
Speaking of thanking veterans, if you are in Winslow on May 30th, come to the Route 66 Plaza Park and welcome home soldiers from their trip to D.C.!
Until next time…