AIKEN, SC (WFXG) - A retired South Carolina soldier who plans to ride his bicycle across the U.S. in honor of military veterans will make a stop at USC Aiken this week.
Tom von Kaenel will bike about 6,600 miles starting March 1 in Clemson, S.C., and crossing through part of Canada to reach Alaska by July 4.
Von Kaenel's journey is supported by the Sea2Sea Foundation, Inc., a military nonprofit headquartered in Suwanee, Ga.
Their goal is to create a long-range program to establish an Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in each state listing the names of those who gave their lives, with the eventual goal of a national Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Von Kaenel will arrive in Aiken Monday morning and will attend a Veterans Fair hosted by U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson. He will be recognized at 10:30 a.m.
He will be at the USC Aiken Student Activity Center on Tuesday, where a memorial ceremony honoring fallen South Carolinian service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will be held at 11:45 a.m. The public is encouraged to attend this service.
USC Aiken's Veteran and Military Student Success Center is welcoming von Kanenel to campus.
"We are honored that Tom von Kaenel is visiting the USC Aiken campus to bring attention to the many fallen soldiers from South Carolina that have served their country well," states Robert Murphy, director of USC Aiken's VMSSC.
This is the second bi-annual Sea2Sea Challenge. The first occurred in the spring of 2012 when von Kaenel and a small team cycled from Ocean Shores, Wash. and finished at Arlington National Cemetery on July 4, covering 4,200 miles in 74 days.
This year's challenge is different because von Kaenel is cycling alone, relying on knowledge and assistance from local communities and cycling clubs and people who can cycle any part of the distance. There is also no dedicated vehicle for support or overnight accommodation, meaning von Kaenel is looking for local churches, civic halls, or families that could host him overnight as he cycles from city to town to town.
Local cycling clubs are encouraged to participate, joining von Kaenel in his journey from the state capital in Columbia to USC Aiken, or from USC Aiken to Fort Gordon. If you wish to ride with van Kaenel, contact Robert Murphy at 803-641-3582 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information or to donate to the cause, visit sea2sea.org.