DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — While on a run in Kuwait in September, Tysen Ober decided he didn’t want to stop. That’s when the idea hit him.
The 23-year-old Army helicopter pilot from Dover-Foxcroft quickly made the decision to run from Los Angeles to Lubec for charity.
“I just didn’t want to stop running,” said Ober on Thursday at his mother’s farm. “I thought, I’m coming home to no job, no wife, no girlfriend, no kids or anything like that. I thought, I want to do something else.”
Ober returned home from a nine-month deployment in Kuwait on Jan. 25. On Friday, Feb. 15, he’ll leave for California and start his run from LA on Feb. 20. His goal is to raise $50,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project — a charity to raise awareness and funds for injured service members.
“I have a friend in Blue Hill who was injured in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that another friend mentioned the Wounded Warrior Project to him.
“These guys are heroes, no matter what,” said Ober. “They deserve to be recognized. I think a lot of times they’re forgotten. They get that check in the mail for disability, but is anyone checking up on them and seeing how they’re doing?”
Ober started fundraising while in Kuwait in October and has raised just under $2,300 so far, but he said he’s just now getting a chance to promote his mission.
“Anything that boy puts his mind to gets done, “said Daniel Ober, Tysen’s father. “I’m pretty proud of him.”
Wendy Russell, Tysen Ober’s mother, said she is also proud of her son.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty amazing thing for him to do for somebody his age,” said Russell. “We’ll try to support him as much as we can, even if we’re stuck here at the farm.”
Tysen Ober said his trip from coast to coast will be about 3,500 miles. He plans to run between 20 and 30 miles five days a week. He estimates it will take him six months to complete.
Along the way, he’ll visit places he’s always wanted to see.
“I’d like to see the Grand Canyon for sure, but that adds like 300 miles to my route because it’s so far off the beaten path,” he said. “The four corners [where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet], I’d like to see that and whatever else is along the way.”
He said he also hopes to meet with people to raise awareness about the Wounded Warrior Project as well as meet some disabled veterans along the way.
Ober is still undecided on how to get to California to begin his run. He needs a recreational vehicle for his friend, Zack Kazan, to drive and to provide them a place to stay for the trip.
“I’m willing to rent one,” he said. “If I have to, I’ll buy one in California and drive it back and sell it here. That’s the only logistics nightmare I’m running into — the camper.”
A camper with two beds and a shower would be preferable, said Ober. If he can find a camper in Maine, he’ll drive it to Los Angeles, he added.
Ober said his run has more than one message.
“I want to motivate people to get out there and give back,” said Ober. “It doesn’t even have to be the Wounded Warrior Project, just give back to those who deserve it and need it. [Also], get out and get active. Not enough people are active in this country. If you have it within your power to do stuff, do it. Don’t just sit around and twiddle on your phone or play Xbox. There’s stuff to be seen. There’s things to do.”
Ober is a 100-win wrestler, not including forfeits, at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill.
Ober will update his progress on his website, alloberamerica.org, where people may also donate to the Wounded Warrior Project.
He said he hopes to be back home in time to restart his college career at the University of Maine, where he is a veterinary science major.
“I have a passion for animals,” he said, while on the family’s farm, which has a dozen sheep, five goats, two pigs, 40 cows and four cats and four dogs.
When his 180-day trek is completed, he said he plans to make his last steps memorable.
“I’m going to stand in LA’s ocean and then jump into our ocean. When I get back in August, it might be 38-degree water instead of 32,” he said with a laugh.