When most of us are 70 years old, we’ll be lucky if we can still touch our toes. But Jim Shiew of Buena Vista, Colo., could serve as inspiration to us all: the Korean War veteran and West Point graduate is currently jogging across the country on a mission that he calls Run America for Vets, raising money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
Shiew has been running for 11 months now and has no plans to stop until he reaches his goal. “It’s very important that we take care of our vets, because they’re not being properly taken care of, and they need a lot of help,” he said.
He serves as his own support crew and travels with two cars — a van and a station wagon with hand-painted red, white and blue stripes, flags and info about his mission (so people know how to donate to his cause).
How does he run and drive two vehicles? He described his process to Stephanie Santostasi of WCYB: “Drive the van forward a couple miles, run back pick up the car, drive it to the van, then move the van forward again. I just kind of follow myself.”
As he inches his way across the country at about 12 miles a day, “I’ll be going east, but running west,” he told Maisie Ramsay of The Chaffee County Times before he embarked on his journey Nov. 1, 2013 in Colorado. He ran to California, waded in the Pacific, then doubled back, heading east all the way to Virginia Beach, which he plans to reach on Sept. 24.
“As far as I can tell, if I can do this, I’ll be the oldest one to run across America,” he told Ramsay.
According to Holly Kozelsky of the Martinsville Bulletin, each day Shiew phones his coordinator, Jim Blakeslee, to report on his progress. (He invites people to track his journey on his Facebook page, Jim For Vets.) Blakeslee arranges accommodations — often at veterans’ organizations or camping facilities — for Shiew.
As for how Shiew feels about America after seeing it one step at a time? He told Kozelsky, that he’s had “wonderful weather, and met some great people. It gives me faith that this is a great country. I just haven’t met anybody who has treated me any way but nice.”
MORE: How Does Running Coast-To-Coast Help Veterans?