$8,895 of $50,000 goal
100% of your donation goes to support veterans through IAVA. Absolutely none of your donation is applied towards the costs associated with my trip.
I'm a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and I've been to Iraq, where I served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division in the first gulf war.
Today, I feel that the men and women who serve this country are owed our thanks and our help as they return from tours of duty in hostile places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Our vets today face a host of serious challenges as they return to us from these combat zones, including debilitating physical injuries, Tramatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and a multitude of psychological problems.
The suicide rate among returning veterans is staggering: one recent study estimated that 22 veterans a day were taking their own lives. However, there's some good news: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) have spearheaded a campaign to develop the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act , which will help reduce military and veteran suicides and improve access to quality mental health care. The SAV Act was signed into law in February this year.
I want to help - there's so much more to be done! 100% of my fundraising efforts on the ride will go directly to IAVA. A trusted veteran-first charity, IAVA continually receives a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator and is one of the nation's top ten non-profit organizations serving veterans. I am not using any of the funds generated towards my ride.
My goal is to raise $5 per mile, but I think we can do even better - so please join me on my ride! Look for #2wheels10k on Instagram , Facebook , YouTube , and Twitter and you can also visit my blog at www.urbanmotorbiker.com for stories from the journey.
Thanks so much!
I promised to end the campaign once my dog Henry's paws crossed the threshold of my apartment. That happened just a few hours ago, and it's 9pm EST here in NYC. To honor my statement, I'm closing donations now and ending the campaign.
On this ride, I've seen a lot of the USA, and I've met a lot of people. I've spoken to at least one veteran daily. That's no lie - every day I ran into at least one vet. All of them had a story to tell me. One vet reminded me that WW1 veterans had at one time been fired upon by our own troops - and that we still elect our leaders, and that we should wake up. Another surprised me by telling me that she had 3 combat tours in Afghanistan as she handed me my room key...as she gave me a wink and a military discount to my hotel room when my second bike broke down. And a third made me smile when our airplane wouldn't start and we were both grounded for the day - and both of us were returning home to wait it out with a home cooked meal. We were all completely different in outward appearance. All the same on the inside. We're everywhere.
All the vets I met were patriots. There was not a single exception. I'm happy to be a part of this family for life. Nobody can ever - EVER - take that from me. I stand among real heroes, which is humbling. I was happy to ride in their honor and I'd do it again in an instant.
We raised $8895. GoFundMe takes 5% ($444.75) and the WePay people took 2.9% plus .30 per transaction ($288.36) and so I'll be giving IAVA a grand total of $8163.59. Which is pretty cool. The GoFundMe site has more information on these fees.
This was my first fundraiser. Was I successful? I don't know. Tough to quantify. Although it was tempting, I didn't want to pitch to media outlets or news agencies or big corporations because the subject felt too precious to me, and doing this trip solo - riding, shooting, updating social media, monitoring the fundraiser, dealing with the issues of the trip - kept it very personal. The people at IAVA are wonderful and are actually doing something to help vets instead of selling shirts and license plate frames and calendars, and so the universe sort of put me right spot where I belonged and doors opened and away I went.
People ask "how was the trip" and I can't answer. It's like asking about a parachute jump or a scuba dive if you've never done it. I guess you should give it a shot and find out. I know this...I crave more. It changed me dramatically and I'm not ready to just open the door and reveal that treasure. I certainly don't have words for it. Brooklyn feels smaller, and that's something...considering this is one of the largest cities in the U.S. I think next I'll need to get out of the country. This was a great ride, but it felt very...hmm...safe.
For the veterans, I think my friend Seth Madej summed it up best during our breakfast in L.A. when he said "you know, John...it feels like we have a peacetime V.A. and a wartime military." That's something to think about as we head into a campaign year. Maybe it's time to ask some direct questions regarding our incredible lack of care when it comes to taking care of our own?
I'll leave it at that. Thank you all for your support. Until we meet again...
PS - Yes, you CAN ride a motorcycle. And you should. At least once. And not on the back, either. :)
We'll keep the fundraiser open until September 1st, and then I'll be closing this chapter. The book, however, is still being written...so stay tuned for my next adventure.
Again, thank you.
I've ridden the new BMW bike for a week, made it here to Portland. This morning when I had it in for initial service we discovered that there was a serious problem with one of the intake valve cams not being properly hardened at the factory, and that a part needed to be ordered from Germany. I'm grounded for a few weeks while they wait for the part and then do the necessary installs here.
Tomorrow, I'm going to fly to North Carolina to visit with family while the repairs are made; I can't just hang out here, too expensive for my limited budget. I'm working with BMW to try to get the airline ticket expenses reimbursed. I don't want to take a break, but at this point it's the only option.
On a ride like this, on a cross country adventure, these situations are to be expected. Patience and rationality are needed here. I'm not going to quit. I'll be back in Portland in a few weeks and I'll continue. I've got about 4700 miles to go.
Thanks very much for your support - I'll keep you posted!
I cannot tell you how fun it has been to be following you on your ride, John! The bumps in the road were unfortunate, but it appears that your spirit is still as strong as ever. The Lenexa-based Marrs family of the 70's is very proud of you and your commitment to veterans in need.
This Rocks John! We know many riders and VETS across this Country who may have a couch for you to sleep on along the way. Is there a way for them to contact you if they can open their door for you along the trip? I am so excited and proud for your goal and mission! It will be Awesome to check in on you and your Journey. I will continue to donate as you roll in the miles. Well done my friend!