Sea2Sea Remembers Fallen and Living Military

Great Video Summary of why Sea2Sea is doing what they do.

Link to original video on IndependentMail.com

Cross-country bike ride to highlight veterans’ needs

Link to Original Article

Cross-country bike ride to highlight veterans’ needs

By Michael EadsPosted February 28, 2014 at 9 p.m., updated February 28, 2014 at 9:10 p.m.

CLEMSON — A Six Mile native will ride his bicycle coast to coast this spring to raise awareness of veterans’ issues.

A crowd of over 100 students, veterans and well wishers gathered Friday afternoon in the Scroll of Honor Memorial across from Memorial Stadium to send off Tom von Kaenel on the Sea2Sea 2014 Challenge. Von Kaenel’s ride will take him from Key West, Fla., to Juneau, Alaska — a four-month trip covering 7,000 miles. A 2011 ride took him from Washington State to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“From my perspective, I’ve got to do something and this is what I’m doing,” von Kaenel told the crowd.

 

Sea 2 Sea remembers fallen and living military

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The Army veteran was inspired to work on behalf of returning Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers after recuperating in a U.S. military hospital in Germany in 2010 from injuries suffered during a vacation in the French Pyrenees mountains. Once recovered, he dedicated himself to raising money and awareness for organizations that serve the needs of this newest generation of American combat veterans.

Von Kaenel also shared the story of Travelers Rest resident Jason Scott Roth, a Marine lance corporal who took his own life last fall after waiting over a year for mental health treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs. He said nearly one veteran takes his or her own life every hour on average because of being unable to get needed help and being unable to adjust to life back home.

One old friend showed up unannounced Friday to show his support for von Kaenel’s work for military veterans.

“I know Tom puts a lot of heart in it,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told the crowd. “I think most of us wish we could do more. We’re all trying to figure out what we can do.”

The ceremony included the reading of over 90 names of Upstate soldiers who have died serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and a rifle salute. The names were read by cadets from the Clemson Corps, the university’s ROTC program.

Von Kaenel shared the podium with volunteers from various Upstate groups working to help local veterans transition back to civilian life, including JD-3 Veterans Organization (www.JD-3.org), Upstate Warrior Solution (www.upstatewarriorsolution.com) and Honoring Their Service, a Keowee Key effort that can be found on Facebook.

Anyone wanting to track von Kaenel’s progress or learn more about helping returning veterans should visit sea2sea.org.

One of Sea2Sea’s Oldest Supporters

Tom's mom

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Here is a wonderful photo of one of Sea2Sea’s older supporters, Sallie, born on Aug 16, 1924, one of thirteen children to ‘Bub’ & Minnie Lee Jameson, farmers in upstate SC.  Seven sons and a daughter served in the US Military, six during World War II and one was killed in a bombing raid over Austria.

Her husband saw combat as an infantryman in World War II & Korea, and she has four sons, all who served in the military.

What makes her special to me is that she’s my Mom.  So to my dear Mother as I pedal away today, I’ll promise not to bicycle on the interstate if you promise me to go to all your doctors’ appointments.  See you in July.  Love, Thomas.

How Do You Cram Your Worldly Possessions into Two Panniers (Saddlebags)?

Very carefully, of course.

As you may be aware (and I now know) – going on a self-supporting bicycle trip requires meticulous planning and a certain amount of ruthlessness to determine what goes in the panniers and what stays at home.

‘Must haves’ become ‘nice to haves’ in a day or so & then change into ‘THROW IT AWAY!) after a week. Jeff at Mainstreet Cycles in Clemson has a good rule of thumb, ‘Pare down everything you want to bring & lay it out before you pack it. Then throw half of it away.’

Here is the current layout for the trip (note – the cat is optional)

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Fully loaded, the two panniers weigh about 25 lbs. With me on the bike, it’s about 235 lbs.

I’ll take another photo one month into the ride to see what has been thrown away.

That’s only one aspect of the ride. The other aspect is the fit of the bike fit and the gearing ratio. That will be in a future blog.

Pitfalls of a New Blogger

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Having been reluctant to embrace social media and being of the mind that once you are 58, you really don’t care who ‘LIKES’ or ‘COMMENTS’ about you, unless it is to tell you that there is a bit of ketchup or mustard on the side of your mouth, or your shirt is inside out or your zipper is unzipped, I find myself trying to strike a balance, between telling people what’s going on or simply getting on the bike & riding to the next destination.

And it is a bit narcissistic, when I notice that my first blog has six comments and succumb to looking at them, only to find all except one are ads (speed dating in Bethesda, and Celebrex printable coupons among the more unusual).  And the one related to the ride, is my friend, Greg, who is joining me to Columbia (Thanks, Greg!)

I guess for the purposes of the trip it is finding the balance being between ‘online’ or ‘on the road’.  Being ‘online’ won’t get us where we want to go, & just being ‘on the road’ won’t publicize our cause the way social media can.  Maybe a good mantra to have is ‘If I’m online, I’m in danger of being off track.’

So my commitment to you is to make these blogs, short, positive & hopefully insightful.  Happy for you to comment (especially if I have a bit of food on my face or if my zipper is unzipped).

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans

Great Article about Tom’s 2nd ride for Sea2Sea in The Greenville News

Feb 24, 2014

Exerpt from the Article:
(For the full article, click here)

This trip is different from von Kaenel’s first Sea2Sea ride in 2011. This one is not about raising money. He wants to raise awareness about those who have died and about those who live with the weight of war on them. And he also wants to let people know about the organizations that help, such as Upstate Wounded Warriors or Gold Star Mothers.

“The extraordinary people are those people that have lost their loved ones in those conflicts and carry on day after day to try and live a normal life,” he says fighting tears. “The extraordinary people are the ones that come back damaged and hurt from visible and invisible wounds, and the families that are struggling to help them lead a normal life that is safeguarded by our constitution.

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans

Six Mile Resident to Embark on Ride for Veterans

In Memory of Jason S Roth

In Memory of Ride: March 1 – Clemson to Aiken
LCpl Jason S Roth – died November 18,  2013

From YouTube:

Published on Nov 19, 2013

This is a memorial video for my best friend of 5 years LCpl Jason S. Roth. He was one of the kindest, funniest, easy-going people I have ever met. He could make a room glow with his smile and turned crappy situations into funny ones. Never a dull moment. Jason took his own life after a hard struggle after his time in the Marine Corps. Please pray for his family and friends. Jay you will never be forgotten, I will think of you every day. Peace man.

Song: Miranda Lambert – Over You

 

Prepping for the journey

Hello from the foothills at the Blue Ridge Mountains! Tom here, getting ready for the 2nd Sea2Sea journey.  I depart from Clemson, SC on Mar 1st, will bicycle down to Key West, FL, then across the US up to Washington State, through Canada, to arrive at Juneau, AK by July 4.  This will be about 6600 miles and will be self supporting (I’ll be carrying my own ‘stuff’).

It has been called ambitious & daunting, but no less so than the challenges that hundreds of thousands veterans and their families face on a daily basis.

I promise not to be so serious in the other blogs, but want to emphasize why we’re doing this again:

We have two goals:

1) To remember those who are no longer with us. It is our vision to establish a long range program to establish an Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in each US State listing the names of those who gave their lives for us in these conflicts, with the eventual goal of a national Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in Washington, DC.

We feel that it is that it is important to list the names at a memorial in each US State so that we have an enduring memorial of their sacrifice. We are starting this program in each state that we are cycling through during this trip and will continue with trips through all the States until completed.

In short the goal is simple – Never forget.

2) To continue to help those that they left behind. Partnering with selected 501(c)3 organizations across the country (for example, Purple Heart Homes, Wounded Warrior Project, Augusta Warrior Project), we will continue to highlight the challenges that service members, veterans, and their families face and how all of us can help.

The ride is different from two years ago in two respects:

1. I am currently cycling, self-supporting the entire distance alone, relying on knowledge and assistance from local communities and cycling clubs and those that wish or are able to cycle any part of the distance.

2. There is no dedicated vehicle for support or overnight accommodation – this is a self-supporting journey (I’m carrying all my stuff with me). Therefore I welcome local churches, civic halls, or families that could host me overnight as I cycle from city to city/town to town.

Also different from last time, instead of asking for corporate sponsorships and donations, we are encouraging all these kinds of donations and sponsorships be given to the local military charities (501(c)3 organizations) throughout the route.

I’ll be adding a short blog very frequently as well as Facebook & Twitter. The intent is to capture the faces and places of this great country of ours. Despite our challenges, we are blessed to here in America and to have the world’s best military defending our country.

Our challenge as citizens is to provide the military and their families with the best support during their service and when they transition back to the local communities across the US. They have raised their game to keep us safe, and now is the time to ensure that we respond in kind by raising our game to give back in the way that works best for them and the local community.

I’ll provide a route overview and how I’ve prepared for the trip in a future blog.

Til then, when you next see a veteran or his/her family, consider adding three words to the phrase that they often hear and appreciate. ‘Thank you for your service’. Those three words are: How can I thank you for your service.

Take care, be safe, God Bless,

Tom