DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A series of setbacks has limited Tysen Ober’s cross-country run for charity to just 96 miles so far, but the Dover-Foxcroft resident is staying positive.
Ober, 23, is back in Maine after traveling to Santa Monica, Calif., to begin his run across America he has dubbed “All Ober America.” He has organized the run in order to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project — a charity to raise awareness and funds for injured service members.
The active-duty Army helicopter pilot departed for California to begin his run on April 11, but has completed just 96 miles of his planned 3,500.
“This has been an adventure, let me tell you,” Ober said on Thursday. “There’s been tons of things I’ve never experienced before, and it’s been quite fun.”
He has raised $7,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project of his $50,000 goal.
Ober, who is home in Dover-Foxcroft for the next month, said he took out a loan to buy a 1988 Travelmaster RV last month, and it’s been nothing but trouble, he said.
Transmission lines began leaking when he made it to New Hampshire from Dover-Foxcroft. The water pump failed when he reached Annapolis, Md.
“We were like a mile from the next exit and we were just smoking down the road,” he said. “We spent the night in a farm store parking lot and they pushed us out of the way the next morning.”
After $750 for a new water pump, Ober and his friend Donny Rafford, a fellow Army pilot who would drive the RV while Ober is running, made it to Georgetown, Colo., before the transmission began to fail.
“We burned out the transmission. Second gear was gone,” said Ober. “I got to Utah and found a shop because I said, ‘We need to get this fixed.’ We were just ripping the thing apart [by driving it that way]. I spent $2,200 to get a new transmission in it. I went with a brand new one and it had a warranty, and good thing we did. We went to California and we burned out another transmission.”
Ober said he decided to sell the RV and go with a rental car for a while.
“It was a smart idea. Downtown LA is not a place for a 30-foot camper,” he said.
On April 27, he made his first run — a 21-mile run from the Santa Monica pier. His knee injury that had initially delayed his trip didn’t bother him, he said. He ran the next three days, totaling 38 miles.
Ober made time in order to enjoy the sights. He said he was able to visit the Taylor Guitar factory in El Cajon, Calif., toured Hollywood and went to Universal Studios. Because of a mutual friend, he was able to meet Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell.
“We went to his house and visited. I told him what I was doing and he said, ‘You’re crazy, you know that?’ I said, ‘yeah, I’m well aware,’” Ober laughed.
Rafford has to report back to military duty, so friend Zach Kazan stepped in and drove for 10 days.
Ober leased a new Ford pickup and got a 23-foot travel trailer to tow behind it. It’s still in California waiting for him to return, he said.
While back home, Ober said he has some military obligations to attend to and is busy organizing fundraisers. He’s trying to organize a bake sale in Bangor for early June and a spaghetti supper in Dover-Foxcroft on June 16.
Ober has dipped far into his savings account for the trip and had hoped to be much further into his journey by now, he said.
“There’s been that mental battle of ‘OK, I set out to do this run as something to try to attract attention to the Wounded Warrior Project, but it’s also personal to me. I want to run and see the country,” Ober said. “But you have all these speedbumps. How many does it take? However, I’m not going to give up.”
He’s been encouraged by those he meets along the way, Ober said.
“[The encouragement has] definitely motivated me,” he said. “People who might be discouraged should just drive on. You can definitely overcome anything with support from the community.”
Ober will return to where he left off in Beaumont, Calif., to begin his run again on June 19. He’ll have help from a substitute teacher from San Antonio, Texas, who agreed to drive the vehicle for a month during Ober’s runs.