Randy Roscoe didn’t serve in Vietnam.
But the chilly reception many U.S. veterans of that war received had a profound effect on the 57-year-old El Paso, Texas resident and Detroit native.
“I grew up in the ’60s, so I have a soft spot for Vietnam veterans,” Roscoe said. “They got treated wrong when they came home. They didn’t get anything except spit in the face.”
A carpenter by trade, who also spent time as a cook and installing water sprinkler systems, Roscoe was working six days a week and wanted to find some way to help veterans. So he volunteered to cook at a homeless shelter in El Paso on Sundays. One of the veterans knew he rode a bicycle and brought up the idea of riding it for a cause.
The notion intrigued him. Now, it’s consumed him.
Since that conversation, he’s ridden more than 8,000 miles in an effort to raise awareness for the plight of veterans. The Wounded Warrior Project is the cause he adopted.
“It’s the best because is nonprofit and 100 percent of the money raised goes to veterans,” Roscoe said. “It goes to help them emotionally and physically. Guys come home with no legs, no arms. They help them get a job.”
Roscoe usually camps out at churches, where he said he’s received shelter and food from those able to give it, or directions to somewhere he can receive both from those who aren’t.
His odyssey began in El Paso on April 1, 2012 and has taken him across the country. He pulls a cart, which holds food, water, a tent and a sleeping bag.
He figures he burns about 4,000 calories a day on his bike. “It keeps me in shape,” he said. “I’ve lost weight.”
He was hoping to visit the Grand Canyon after leaving Payson. He then planned to continue on to Utah, Nevada and Northern California, and possibly head up to Seattle, Wash.
“It depends on the weather and how I feel,” he said.
What makes him feel good, he said, is the people he meets most days on his adventure.
“I have met some of the friendliest people,” Roscoe said. “I’ve met hundreds of people and only a few bad ones.”
He said people offer him money but he’d rather have them donate to the cause he’s trying to raise awareness for by visiting woundedwarriorproject.org.