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Racing Pigeons Fly Across America to raise funds for Wounded Warriors

Racing pigeons have a long history of serving in times of war, and from September 11th through November 11th (USA Veteran’s Day), racing pigeon lofts across the United States, will participate in a Cross Country Pigeon Relay to raise funds for “Building Homes for Heroes”, an organization that builds and gifts, homes customized for the needs of wounded warrior.

Every 10 days, Building Homes for Heroes, hands over title to a home customized to the specific needs of the veteran recipient.  Some homes are “new construction”, built from the ground up for the specific needs of a wounded veteran and some homes are completely remodeled donated bank repossessions.  These homes are handed over debt free along with financial education classes to equip these wounded warriors with the finacial tools necessary to maintain their new homes and upkeep their tax payments and other cost associated with home ownership.

The relay will start from Vancouver, in Washington State, on September 11th, when a team of racing pigeons released, will return to their home loft in Salem Oregon, from there, another team will be released, in Salem Oregon returning to their home loft in Grants Pass Oregon.  When these birds arrive in Grants Pass, another team will be released, flying over the Siskiyou Mountains to Red Bluff California, and so on until they reach their final destination in Daytona Beach, Florida.

In all, there will be relay lofts across 11 states; Washinton, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana , Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.  Over a 62 day period, a 4000 mile relay race will be flown to raise funds for wounded veterans, who need customized homes, to meet their special requirements.

Racing Pigeon Fanciers from across the United States have volunteered to be host lofts, for this charity event.  They will personally incur the expense of getting their birds to the loft upstream from them, and when their birds arrive home, they will release the birds sent to them by the loft down stream from them.

As of July, we have nearly 95% of this cross country relay filled in, and it has been rewarding in that almost every fancier called and asked to participate has said yes, or if unable to participate, they have suggested a local loft that would be able to fill the gap in completing this relay race to benefit our special needs veterans.  By the time you read this article, we hope to not only have the complete route filled in, but also have special local auctions and other fund raisers along the way to raise additional funds for these wounded warriors.

I have never seen anything like this, and it is truly overwhelming, to see how everyone contacted, is in complete support of the project.  For example, I sent birds this year to a young bird convention (money) race on Long Island, NY, and called the coordinators to tell them that I had shipped birds to them for the race.  In passing, I told them about the fund raiser we were doing for the veterans, and they offered to place 12 birds from the best breeding lofts on Long Island, into the best handler lofts for the convention and give 100% of the breeder and handler prizes won by those birds to the fund raiser.  I know, that I am dreaming now, but first prize is $25.000

And, this is how it has been with everyone I have called about this project.  I am just overwhelmed at the reception this project is receiving.  Everyone, I have contacted, either jumped at the opportunity to host a relay leg or gave me the name of someone local to them that would take on the relay responsibilities. 

Some of these relay hosts are taking on long stretches of desert.  For example, the leg from San Berardino, California to Las Vegas, the leg from Las Vegas to Phoenix, the leg from Tuscon Arizona to El Paso, El Paso to Midland Texas and Midland to Kerrville Texas, are all between 170 miles to 250 miles across desert and west Texas sage brush.  There is just no other way, there are no other clubs or lofts and these relay participants are tackling segments of the relay across the harshest of environments.  That is how much they want to help our wounded veterans.

Some legs of the relay, which corresponds to the club’s YB race schedule, will be flown as special club races, with special entry fees collected and donated to the fund raiser.  But for many of the relay legs, the birds are flying the opposite direction of their usual race course. 

Some relay leg fanciers and clubs have said that they will release their relay birds from local veteran memorials or national military cemeteries, instead of from relay loft locations. 

Another aspect of the project we are working on, is making message capsules for the relay birds to wear, that will contain copies of messages carried by our birds in time of war.  We plan to incorporate the honorable service of our birds and their wartime handlers during WWI and WWII, and how these many years later, they are serving again, in this cross country relay to raise funds for our wounded veterans in need of special housing.

I am amazed how much the racing pigeon fanciers want to do something beneficial for the sport. Something that allows us to put our best foot forward and tell our communities about our sport.  It is hoped, that as the birds make their way across the country, that local news organizations will carry the story of the relay, the funds being raised and the history of our birds in wartime service.

Yes, there are still challenges and things can go wrong, but there is also real excitement for having an opportunity to show off, the history of our birds serving in the military, to project our sport in a positive way and to help our veterans.

I will try to keep you updated, through the Pipa website, with further developments, and progress of the relay.  We will also have a website up and running in August at oldgloryflight.org and we have a Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/oldgloryflight.

Here is a partial list of those who have chosen to participate in this relay.  By the time you read this it will have grown, to fill in the yet unknown relay leg participants.  Most are individual flyers and some are contacts with a club sponsoring a relay leg.

Mike Coleman Salem Oregon, Russ Codd Grants Pass Oregon, Walt Schaffer Red Bluff California, Carl Perry Hilmar California, Darryl Coston Bakersfield California, Leonard Lee Oak Hills California, Vicente Valenzuela & Oscar Ruiz Las Vegas Nevada, Bob Swanson Waddell Arizona, Mick Claves Tucson Arizona, Bill Jacques / El Paso RPC El Paso Texas, Cole Creek / Blue Collar RPC Midland Texas, Trey Crooks & Gary “Bear” Donelson / Heart Of The Hills RPC Kerrville Texas, David Stanley Splendora Texas, Fred Werner Lafayette Louisiana (Fred has arranged all relay lofts from Splendora Texas to Pass Christian, Missisppi), Charles Lee Pass Christian Mississippi, Chad Ward Cantonment Florida (Chad has arranged all relay lofts from Pass Christian, Mississippi through Alabama and all the way to Defuniak Springs Florida), Frank Smitty & Wes Howell (handling from Defuniak Springs to Tallahassee / Monticello Florida), Jerry June Fort White Florida, with the final relay leg being a “Special” club race from Fort White to the Daytona Beach Florida area lofts of the Florida East Coast RPC, organized by Ray Donawa.

We are planning to finish the relay fund raiser for our wounded veterans with an auction of donated birds on Veteran’s Day November 11th . 2018.  Many thanks to Wim and Steven de Troy, of Berlaar who heard of our event and have offered to donate to the auction, which we will pickup in September.

You may contact me at 4ln svnnhtot.ahoejiu@a..