Di and Jackie Lucas

Di and Jackie Lucas show off their vintage Harley-Davidson in front of their Needles home.

NEEDLES — For around two decades Needles has been one of the first stops on the Run For The Wall. This year, Needles resident Di Lucas is being recognized for leading the community’s first efforts to support the hundreds of cross-country motorcycle riders and their mission: “To promote healing among all veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all prisoners of war and those missing in action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those killed in action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world.”

The riders: military veterans, their families, friends and supporters visit Needles’ Santa Fe Park once again around 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, on their journey from Ontario, Calif., to Washington, D.C. Their lunch and associated gift items are once again being hosted by the Needles Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is seeking donations of any size to help defray the cost of about $6 each. As of May 5, more than 400 riders had signed up for the run’s central route, which is the one that includes Needles.

Working for the city of Needles at the time, Tim Duncan remembered the tradition’s beginnings here and Lucas’ involvement with them. “It was 1998 or ’99,” Duncan said. “The Run For The Wall folks were looking for a place to have lunch on the first day of the trip. Di got wind of this and stepped right up.”

Those first stops were hosted entirely by volunteers and donations, Duncan continued. “Di went to work and got all that together; including the RFTW folks and what they’d need and require, local law enforcement and the California Highway Patrol to get the riders in and out of town safely.

“The first year was just a sack lunch for the riders,” he continued. “It’s progressed from there over the last 20 years.”

How did Lucas get involved? “This particular event is near and dear to Di’s heart because she comes from a strong military family,” Duncan said. “Her dad was a captain in the Air Force and served in WWII and Korea; her husband Jackie was in the Navy during the Vietnam era.

“Plus, with her motorcycle background, she was the right person,” he continued. “She stepped right up and made it happen.” Note: Lucas has had a fascination with motorcycles that began in childhood. Her and husband Jackie currently ride a 1966 Harley-Davidson ‘shovel-pan.’ - ed.

Why? “For what the Run For The Wall stands for,” Duncan said. “They ride for the ones that can’t. For their whole thing. Again, with Di’s military family background that’s what it’s all about. Their group and what they represent.

“She brought it here and single-handedly put it together and just made it happen. I think it’s one of the longer-running public service events within the city. This one’s unique and, really, it’s because of her that it happens.”

The public is invited to visit Santa Fe Park during the run and welcome the group. Everyone is urged to donate, even the price of one lunch for one veteran, by contacting the chamber at their new location, 109 F St., weekdays between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Call 760-326-2050 to use a credit card. Send checks by mail to P.O. Box 705, Needles, CA 92363.

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