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The End is Near!
By: Tony & Michelle Van Schaick
International Directors, Rider Education

As we sit at the keyboard preparing to write our holiday message, it is almost a week before the Thanksgiving holiday here in the States. We have a lot to be thankful for.

Halloween marked our 33rd wedding anniversary. It is hard to believe that another year is going by so quickly. We were that couple in high school they said would never last. Part of the Treat, that final October day, was taking over the caretaking of the GWRRA Rider Education Program (REP) after experiencing 17 years as Members. We owe retiring International Rider Education Directors, Gene and Betty Knutson, a great big THANK YOU for all their hard work, growing and improving the REP, for everyone during their time at the helm. We were honored to be selected to carry on their work in service to the membership.

It was unseasonably warm here today at 80°F, but a dip to the freezing mark predicted tomorrow night will put everything back in order. Some radio stations are already playing Christmas songs 24/7. Michelle spent the day baking goodies and the house is full of wonderful smells. There is a special feeling in the air. Everywhere you go the mood is starting to feel more upbeat - people sensing something wonderful is on the horizon. We wish this could last the whole year long! Stores and malls are already clearing out spaces to get their goods set for black Friday. We saw our first outdoor, private home, lighted Christmas decorations on the way to a local Chapter monthly gathering last night. Many GWRRA Members are talking about plans for their Chapter end-of-year celebrations. Whether you observe Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or something just as special - please do so safely and with thanks for all you have. We all want you to be around after the holidays to get back together with us and enjoy this wonderful sport as motorcycle/trike/sidecar enthusiasts.

Michelle and I are happy to have our oldest daughter (who just had her deployment to Afghanistan cancelled) and her husband (who just returned from his second tour there) coming in from Tennessee to share in a Thanksgiving feast. They will be bringing a service member with them who can't be with relatives this year. We gladly volunteered to be a host, as a way to pay back the kindness Tony was shown on a Thanksgiving Day many years ago in San Diego when it was him who was away in the military. Our second daughter and her new fiancé will also be joining the festivities, coming in from the small town in upstate New York where we lived for a number of years before selling the house and moving everything to North Carolina earlier this year. We will miss our youngest and his girlfriend who understandably can't make it from Seattle this year.

If you are traveling this holiday season, please make use of all the great training you received either from a volunteer GWRRA Riding Course Instructor or Seminar Presenter - or from a course you were made aware of by one of our volunteer Rider Educators. Keep in mind that one of the greatest compliments and motivators you can give is a thank you to someone who sought to make a difference by their volunteer service to you. If you avoided an accident or lessened your injury because someone helped you improve your riding or co-riding skills this past year, we ask that you seek out that GWRRA Rider Educator, Instructor, Facilitator or Presenter and let them know. If you can't, please tell all your friends what a great benefit our world-renowned Rider Education Program is. Your encouragement and word of mouth publicity just might make the difference to persuade someone to move from just thinking about it, to joining in on the lifesaving training we offer. Then you will have joined us in saving lives by quality education. We have always considered Rider Education to be the ultimate Member retention program. Remember - Friends don't let friends learn by ACCIDENT. Please take the extra time before pulling away from the stoplight this season, plan ahead to avoid rushing, be a little more patient while traveling, and above all BE SAFE while enjoying the holidays! Your gift to all of us is your safe return after the celebrations.

Read More Featured Stories From December 2011 Wingin' It.