By Lacey Peterson | Union Democrat | Marines.mil | October 18, 2011
Former U.S. Marine Tim Tuomey started a test run Monday for his upcoming cross-country bicycle trip.
Tuomey has enlisted two friends on a bike and in a follow car on the 132-mile stretch from Lee Vining to Tonopah, Nev.
“It’s a really good test piece,” the 45-year-old said Friday from his Mi-Wuk Village home.
Tuomey and his wife, Keverne, split their time between the mountains and San Francisco, where Keverne owns an art shop.
Tuomey is biking nearly 200 miles a week in an effort to get in shape for a 3,100-plus mile trip, “Operation Awakening,” from the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center on the Sonora Pass, to the 2nd Marine Division reunion in Jacksonville, N.C.
Tuomey is leaving the second week of April 2012 and is planning to arrive in North Carolina by June 21, 2012, he said.
His goal is to raise $50,000 to benefit the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and some GPS equipment for the trip.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is a nonprofit that provides immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
The fund helps post-Sept. 11, 2001, Marines and Navy members, as well as members of the Army, Air Force or Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces, the Semper Fi website said.
The Semper Fi Fund help families with associated costs from hospitalization and recovery and offers assistance for those with perpetuating needs.
The fund offers support services like service member and family support, specialized and equipment, housing, transportation, education and career transition assistance, therapeutic arts and Team Semper Fi.
The fund also flies families to see an injured soldier at the military hospital, Tuomey said.
Since the fund was established in 2004, the organization has issued more than 34,000 grants totaling more than $54 million to thousands of veterans and their families.
Tuomey said he is passionately committed to helping his “brothers and sisters” in the armed forces and their families.
Donations to the fund help men and women who have earned respect and should be a “unifying rally point,” for people of all political slants, he said.
“This is a tribute to the unconditional sacrifice that these men and women make every day,” Tuomey said. “There is no higher commitment on this planet.”
The idea of the ride sprang from a June accident in the eastern Sierra, when Tuomey fell into a crevasse and broke two toes and was stuck for half a day. He said he had “a come to Jesus moment” and wanted to do “more walking and less talking.”
He said he thought about the things that are important to him, like family, but also his military “brothers and sisters,” and “the freedom they’ve given me.”
Tuomey also wants to raise awareness of the difficulties returning injured soldiers face.
This isn’t Tuomey’s first long ride. In 2002, he biked from Seattle to San Francisco in 12 days. He’s also a 20-plus year rock climbing expert, with several documented first ascensions. He’s worked in search and rescue and enjoys sleeping in a tent thousands of feet in the air on the side of a mountain face.
Tuomey was honorably discharged from the Marines in the early 1990s and moved to California to be closer to rock climbing, something he’d done since a young boy in Syracuse, N.Y.
He couldn’t get a job then in firefighting, what he’d learned in the military, but he got hired on in the tech sector in the Bay Area. Tuomey worked in sales for 20 years and 11 months ago was laid off by America Online.
He’s sent out thousands of resumes, he said. Companies don’t want to hire and pay senior-level employees, he said.
Years later, looking back at his decision to join the Marines, Tuomey said, “I love adventure. I love the unknown.”
The cross-country trip will have much of both and Tuomey plans to keep people updated via live web updates on his Operation Awakening website and a GPS tracker.