Memorial Day weekend is upon us and what better commemorative than the journey of two guys across country in a 1916 Model T to raise awareness and money for Disabled American Veterans.
Jesse Cole and James Whitcomb left Massachusetts on May 2 and have been trekking westward at 35mph since. The two men have been friends since 1963. Whitcomb is a Marine Corps veteran who did 3 tours of Vietnam and returned with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Cole, who has been a lifelong happy owner of Ford vehicles, rebuilt the Model T with support from local experts. After hearing of the struggles faced by vets from the Iraq War, they decided to join forces for a cross country adventure to raise awareness of support services available to veterans. Jesse drives the T and James (from Northfield where I live!) follows in a support van with trailer, for towing the T if needed. They have faced some wildly challenging weather on their journey so far - high winds in the east and fierce rainstorms in Pennsylvania that nearly ended the trip before it picked up momentum.
Traveling on a shoestring budget, they've been stopping at VFW and American Legion posts, garnering support and raising awareness about the DAV, a non-government, national organization that assists veterans in getting a wide variety of support that they so deeply deserve, but all too often have difficulty obtaining. Support from sponsors is helping cover costs of the trip, along with donations from individuals. They have found some of wonderful support in Richmond, IN, where Model Ts lined up to welcome their arrival, but also areas of sparse interest in their cause. They hope to attract the support of Jay Leno of the Tonight Show, a vintage car fan, when they reach California.
Most of their car troubles have involved their support vehicle, a 7 year old van with 200,000 miles on it before the trip started. The Model T has had a least one flat tire and a dead battery morning, but otherwise is holding up extremely well. I love how reliable that old car is turning out to be! It can't be too comfortable, especially through wind and rain, so kudos to Jesse! Their grand adventure seem to be well ahead of schedule. They are now at the Grand Canyon and getting ready to hit a welcome mat of events as they approach the coast. Follow their journey via their blog and make a donation to support their trip and cause! It's not over when they reach California! They will be heading back across country to Massachusetts. Bless you guys!