With pace vehicles before and behind him, “Rusty” Rust unicycled north of Enders early Sunday as he started another leg of his Veterans Gratitude Ride. (Johnson Publications photo)
“Rusty” Rust hopes the six miles he rides each day on a unicycle will help people take notice and donate to his fund-raising effort for four veterans organizations. (Johnson Publications photo)
Cross-state trek, part on unicycle, an effort for veterans
A central Nebraska man is grateful for what the U.S. military has done for the country, and is putting his feet to the pavement, and pedals, to show it.
Bobby “Rusty” Rust of Blue Hill was in Imperial Saturday and Sunday after completing the first leg of his 234-mile trek between the Kansas and South Dakota borders raising funds for four veterans groups.
It’s not the usual trek, however. Six miles of each day’s distance is ridden on a unicycle.
The rest includes six miles running and 21 miles on a bicycle for a 33-mile daily goal.
People traveling on Highway 61 Sunday between Enders and Grant may have had a glimpse of the 58-year-old veteran who has dubbed his effort the “Veterans Gratitude Ride.”
He first leg Saturday morning began north of Benkelman. In Imperial later that day, he said he was happy with his 3:37 time.
Rust had a simple answer when asked why he’d take on such a physically challenging effort.
“Just seeing those veterans who were hurt (in the service). They gave more than I did,” he said.
People need to remember, Rust said, that men and women in the military today have volunteered to enter harm’s way.
Rust served 14 years in the U.S. military. Four of those were in the U.S. Army serving in Europe as a combat engineer. He was training to be deployed to Iraq when he was injured, he said.
That was followed up with four years in the Kansas National Guard and six in the Nebraska National Guard. He is an officer at the Hastings Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Post 9.
Rust has set a lofty fund-raising goal of $50,000 which will be divided between four veterans charities: the DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Wounded Warrior Project and the Disabled Veterans National Foundation.
Rust’s entire fund-raising team for the ride is comprised of veterans, he said.
So why the unicycle?
“It’s something unique,” he smiled.
Maybe a bit of a marketing tool, too, as he hopes seeing a unicycle ridden down the highway will help push people to make a donation.
He admitted it’s not easy because it requires constant pedaling. Coasting isn’t possible on a unicycle.
“Six miles is about all you can do,” he said.
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