By Cory Pippin | Fox 10 News Pensacola | Fox10tv.com | April 8, 2012
PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - As cars zoom by, Rick Hermelin, 71, steadily makes his way up the highway, his legs pumping the pedals on his elliptical bike.
Hermelin is on a 100 day, 3,000 mile trip across the country to support the "Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund."
"I wanted to do a coast to coast for many years and now this gives me the chance to do it for something greater than myself, which is the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund," said Hermelin.
The fund provides support for injured and critically ill members of the Armed Forces and their families.
"This makes it so their families can be there and attend to them. It helps with anything they may need in the future, whether it's housing or transportation. It's something they do for those men and women for the long term," Hermelin said.
Hermelin served in the Marine Corps from 1959 to 1963.
He says his goal is to spread awareness on his journey and to raise $10,000 in donations.
Hermelin says he's spent nine out of the 17 nights he's been on the road staying at fire stations. He says they've welcomed him with open arms.
The Osceola Fire Station provided Hermelin with a room for Sunday night. They also allowed him to use their washing machine and shower.
Fire Chief Curt Isakson says the cause holds a special meaning for them.
"I would say firefighters feel very connected to this. We try to stay here on the homefront and protect their families while they're out protecting our families. So we feel a serious commitment to the military and the soldiers," said Isakson,
He says they're glad they were able to help Hermelin the way they could.
"Bringing him in makes us feel like we're a part of him giving back to the troops for what they do for all of us and protecting our safety," Isakson said.
Hermelin says he has raised over $3600 so far.
He began in South Carolina and he plans to make it to San Diego by June 30, which would meet his goal of 100 days.
Hermelin is scheduled to be in Gulf Shores on Monday, and Bayou La Batre on Tuesday.