10th Biennial National Rally Recap
September 17-21, 2023

Dates: September 17-21, 2023
Location: State Fair of WV Campground
947 Maplewood Ave
Lewisburg, WV 24902
Hosts: Dee Dee and Nick McClain
Mary and Jerry Breu
Eric and Sue Sandstrom


This rally got off to a wet start. The Parking Committee sloshed through mud and got soaked to the skin with rain, but they successfully parked 37 coaches, 8 of which were with us for the first time. Nineteen states were represented. Seventy-one people comprised our group. As soon as everyone was parked, the sun started shining and that was the end of the inclement weather.

Our Meet and Greet was a catered supper with sandwiches, chips, and cookies. Al Emch, a Vietnam veteran, retired lawyer, and current President of the Lewisburg Historical Society, gave an excellent talk about the history of the area, dating from the Native Americans up to the Civil War. Following his talk, Dee Dee and Nick gave rally schedule updates and raffled door prizes.

We're parking in the rain...
Al Emch presenting area history


At 8:00, we boarded a bus, the destination being The Greenbrier, America's Resort, built in 1778. While some browsed through the exclusive shops and floral gardens, others were introduced to tour guide Rick Duncan who led us through Project Greek Island, also known as The Bunker, a former Cold War top secret underground facility built to accommodate the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the event of a national emergency. He explained it was constructed between 1958 and 1961, under the elegant hotel. The 112,544 square feet on two levels were completely self-sustaining, housing a power plant, communications area, dormitories, laundry facility, dispensary/clinic, cafeteria/kitchen, and exhibit hall/meeting rooms. It could meet the needs of 1,100 people for up to forty days. The Bunker was a well-kept secret until May, 31, 1992, when its existence was revealed in a story published in The Washington Post. The next day, the facility began a phase-out which took 3 years. Since 1995, the exhibit area has been used by thousands of guests for trade shows and meetings as well as serving as a data storage facility for the private sector. At the tour's conclusion, the participants spent time shopping and enjoying the gardens while the rest of the group toured The Bunker.

Boarding the bus for adventure!
The Greenbrier Hotel

At noon, we rode the bus to the Elks Country Club where a buffet lunch was served. It was a lovely setting on the golf course. The building had a wrap-around porch, our servers were very pleasant, and the food was tasty.

The bus left the Country Club and drove everyone to Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg. Marketing Director Philip McLaughlin stated the town of Lewisburg, population 3,900, strongly supports Fine Arts and Education. He gave a brief history of the Hall, noting there are four, located in New York, Pittsburgh, Lewisburg, and Scotland. Built in 1901, the nonprofit performing arts and education center offers live concerts, art exhibits, diverse classes and workshops, films, lectures, and galleries. World-renowned pianist, Barbara Nissman, delighted us with selections by Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and Liszt, whom she said was ". . . a lot of fun to play." After the performance, she agreed to have a photo taken with us and was very accessible, answering questions, signing autographs as well as her CDs that were available for purchase.

Barbara Nissman

For one night only! The Born Free Leap'n Lions RV Club Live at Carnegie Hall!

At 4:00, a very tired but happy and enlightened group returned to the campground.


We were treated to a delicious, hot, catered breakfast, then had the Business Meeting. President Jerry Breu thanked everyone for their support over the years, and announced that he will remain president for two more years and will then resign. Secretary/Treasurer Sandy Perley read the minutes of the 2021 National Biennial Rally and presented the financial report. Both were approved. Web Administrator Dave Moffat gave an informative overview of how the functions of the Club will be dealt with technologically. A full slate of officers was elected, and, for the first time in quite a while, every position is filled. Our 2023-2025 Executive Board is as follows:

PresidentJerry Breu
Secretary/TreasurerSandy Perley
Website AdministratorDave Moffat
Rally/Caravan CoordinatorNick McClain
Newsletter EditorKim Curtis
VP - NW RegionNancy Wolf and Mike Gillespie
VP - NC RegionCarolyn and Anton Hol
VP - NE RegionMarilyn and Bob Gray
VP - SW RegionPhyllis Howard
VP - SC RegionPam Clark
VP - SE RegionMartha and Gregg Bindshedler

Although they could not be in attendance, Sue-Ann and Eric Sandstrom were recognized for their many years of service as SE Region VP. Rally attendees were shown a commemorative plaque thanking Sue-Ann and Eric. The plaque has been mailed to them in Florida.

Rally/Caravan Coordinator Nick McClain was excited to announce several upcoming rallies, the locations of which are literally from coast to coast: Florida, Washington, DC, Missouri, North Dakota, Idaho, and California. For information about the rallies, go to the Born Free Leap'n Lions RV Club website, press the blue Rallies and Events button, then press the blue Upcoming Rallies & Events button.

At 1:00, a Technical Seminar was held. Attending were Levi and Luke Kuhn who own Kuhn Truck and RV in Sherwood, Ohio which specializes in the restoration, maintenance and sales of smaller RVs. They buy, refurbish, and sell Born Free Motorcoaches as well as work on current Born Free owners' coaches. Facilitated by Ron Bash, a panel of the Kuhn brothers, Pam Clark, Randy Johnson, and Sab Sasaki answered technical questions from the audience regarding leaks, squeaks, replacing trim, restringing window shades, etc. A door prize of a Lego camper van was awarded at the conclusion of the seminar.

The technical panel
Leah Trent performing at the Afternoon Tea

For the first time, men were invited to join the women for the Afternoon Tea at 3:00. While munching on cookies and drinking tea or lemonade, the group was entertained by harpist Leah Trent who played Celtic and contemporary pieces. Between numbers, she was very informative when asked to explain the technicalities of her favorite instrument.

Admission to the Pizza Party at 6:00 was 3 non-perishable food items per person (to be donated to the local Salvation Army food pantry). After pizza, salad, and ice cream with strawberries, and after much secrecy, anticipation, and speculation, Nick, with the use of videos, cleverly revealed the site of the 2025 Biennial National Rally. In anticipation of the upcoming Historic Route 66 Centennial, the rally will be held at the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center in Shawnee, Oklahoma, September 21-25, 2025. Following the announcement, Nick showed videos of John Dodgen and scenes from previous rallies, and door prizes were awarded.


The day started off with a catered hot breakfast, and attendees were then free to spend their time however they chose. At 4:00 there was another first for a National Rally - a "Tour of Coaches." Nancy Wolf and Mike Gillespie, VPs of our NW Region and members of the Born Free RV Happy Campers USA Facebook group, organized and guided this tour. Ten volunteer hosts invited rally attendees to see changes the owners had made inside and outside their coaches. There was great interest and enthusiasm in this new activity.

A delicious chicken dinner with cobbler and ice cream for dessert was followed by a presentation of the Pizza Party food and money donation. Captain Jerry Lester of the Beckley, West Virginia, Salvation Army Food Pantry graciously received the gift of $500 worth of food and $500 in donations for the food pantry. Excellent country music was provided by Rusty Rierson who blended humor with familiar country songs, medleys, and his original tunes. The final door prize was awarded and the evening came to a close.

Our donation to the Salvation Army Food Pantry
Rusty Rierson


During the catered hot breakfast, Nick recognized all the volunteers who made the rally so enjoyable. The theme, "Music in the Mountains," was most appropriate. The music by all the artists was excellent, and the scenic mountains surpassed our expectations. Hearing John Denver's rendition of "Take Me Home, Country Road" several times was a thread that pulled everything together. DeeDee and Nick McClain did an excellent job of planning and organizing a very memorable and special gathering. Thank you!

Group photo

By Mary Breu. Thanks to Linda Atwood for the pictures.