Despite all of its sacrifices, the COVID-19 epidemic has inspired many people to pursue new aspirations. That has required Tommy Pasquale to embark on a road that had appeared insurmountable to him during the lockdown.
The Morris County, New Jersey native met up with friends and family on a Jersey Shore beach on September 19 to go on the trip of a lifetime. To collect money for homeless veterans, he is walking 3,000 miles across the continent while wheeling a shopping cart that has been spray-painted red, white, and blue.
The 24-year-old, who is currently traveling across America’s backroads and byways, said last week from Tennessee that “they all thought I was a little bit crazy, and I think that is understandable.”
In a trip he’s documenting on various social media streams, Pasquale, who was born and raised in Manasquan, New Jersey but now resides in Randolph, New Jersey, has earned $15,000 thus far. He has traveled 925 miles thus far across Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He intends to finish his voyage at Venice Beach, California, in seven months.
In a Zoom interview, he explained that what drives him is “knowing the sacrifices that so many men and women have given to this country to make possibilities for me and everyone else possible.” I only want to return the favor as they have contributed to the greatness of this nation.
When Pasquale mentioned walking across the nation, his family assumed he was being ironic, according to Pasquale, who studied marketing and management at Seton Hall. However, he was enthralled by the concept and believed that this was the perfect time in his life for him to take a major risk for a worthwhile cause.
He ended his employment as a provider of payroll and benefits software and started organizing. He began exercising by going for daily beach walks around Memorial Day to get in shape. Pasquale said, “I decided to take the chance and go for it.
He has been traveling for the previous two months, pulling a cart with enormous wheels and a large poster promoting his candidacy. He sets out early in the morning and usually completes 20 to 25 kilometers of walking before finishing between 5 and 7 in the evening.
The cart is loaded with Pasquale’s stuff, a tent, and food items including almonds, jerky, granola bars, canned beans, and peanut butter. I stop to buy some fast food in places like Walmart now and again because I need something more substantial, he added.
Two months ago, his nights were very different from how they are now. At campgrounds, churches, fire stations, and neighborhood VFW and American Legion posts, Pasquale has pitched his tent. Along the road, friends and good samaritans have assisted.
He remarked, “There have been some gracious folks who have allowed me to pitch the tent in their yard. I occasionally stay in motels, but now and then, some friends are kind enough to let me crash on their couches.
Pasquale has a second cart in motion. On Day Six, the first one broke down, but two friends stepped in to save the day: “My pals Nico and Ben acquired a Home Depot cart, modified it, and gave it to me the next day,” he added.
His GoFundMe page has raised thousands of dollars thanks to the publicity his miles of walking have generated. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans receives all donations.
According to Pasquale, he wants to raise awareness of the 40,000 American veterans who are thought to sleep rough every night. He remarked, “I just think that’s sort of a startling figure and inappropriate.
Pasquale continued, “I have always been enthusiastic about helping veterans in any way I can. “I have a lot of friends who are veterans or in the military, as well as some family members who are veterans.”
Although Pasquale has been dealing with aches and pains, he claimed that generally, his body has fared well. It’s very tiring mentally, he remarked. For the remainder of the journey, he intends to take a southern route, passing through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before arriving at the Pacific, presumably in the company of friends and family.
On the trip by myself, I had some time to think. Pasquale claimed that he has been most moved by people’s kindness and desire to assist a stranger regardless of where they are from, their political allegiances, or their religious convictions.
The difference in style of life between the many regions of this country is the most intriguing thing I’ve observed so far, he remarked. But everybody is friendly to me wherever I go.