The 'Walk to Remember' ride on March 29 was a success. Participants in the Walk each donated at least $25 for the purchase of Battlefiled Cross Memorials for Missouri and Kansas soldiers. The memorials were designed by Richard Rist of the Large Art Company to honor the memory of our fallen soldiers.
Twenty-seven bikes made the trip from Kansas City’s Children’s Fountain to Weston. Nine riders volunteered to serve as road captains. It was a cold start with a wind chill index of 29 degrees. Thanks to Weston’s sloping Main Street, the large crowd gathered at City Hall to greet the riders got a great view of the procession, three flag-bearing bikes in the lead, from as much as seven blocks away. I believe the motorcycle count was 42 after other small groups arrived. Represented were Legions, VFWs, Patriot Guard Riders, Combat Veterans, current active military, and civilians--all Americans.
Patrick Farnan acted as Honorary Road Captain and rode to my right in the procession. Patrick, whose son Spc. Colby M. Farnan lost his life in Iraq on February 25, 2005, started the 'Walk to Remember' in March, 2006. Patrick’s daughter, Kristen came up with the idea. Donations from the first event provided enough funds to purchase and dedicate the memorial for Spc. Farnan in Weston and contributed to memorials for Eddie Myer and Joshua Munger of St. Joseph, Missouri. 'Walks' were also held in St. Joseph and Independence. In 2007, contributions from the 'Walk' helped purchase Battlefield Cross Memorials for David Unger, Leavenworth, Kansas, Joel Bertoldie, Independence, Missouri, Lucas Frantz, Tonganoxie, Kansas, and Ryan Campbell, Kirksville, Missouri. Funds were started for memorials for Shane Austin, Edgerton, Kansas and Anthony Mazzarella, Blue Springs, Missouri.
After a brief ceremony and acknowledgements of seven families of lost soldiers that were represented, we began the walk. A 2.2-mile 'bluff' road overlooked the Burlington Northern Railroad and, farther out, the majestic Missouri River. Blooming trees and spring growth had not yet made their entrance. Along the trail were weather-resistant posters of over 130 Missouri and Kansas sons and daughters who had given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Nearly all had pictures and something of a personal nature written about them. They all had hopes and dreams--forever young. Many had young children who will know these courageous heroes only through memorials and family pictures. As we walked the road and stopped to learn about these fallen, we became very aware that we had truly stepped away from life as we know it--if only for a couple of hours, we walked on hallowed ground. The posters were staged on the right side of the road, so regardless of their direction of travel, walkers were facing them.
Adding to the success of the day, after expenses approximately $10,000. was raised, and an additional check was provided by Joel Bertoldie's family from Independence, Missouri, where their “Walk” raised $7,000. Contributions completed the two funds begun in 2007 and also allowed the purchase of Memorials for Jeremy Drexler, Topeka, Kansas, and Mathew Murchison, Independence, Missouri. The Walk to Remember website has information on each hero lost during the war over the last five years. There is also a 'donate' button that contributors may donate online using credit cards or PayPal. Contribution checks can also be made out to: Colby M. Farnan Memorial Fund/Walk to Remember and mailed to B. Lott, 17808 Mandi Lane, Weston, Missouri 64098.
Article by Darrell Curfman
Photos by Mary Curfman