His tennis shoes worn, his skin tanned and his car looking like a graffiti magnet, Richard Hunsucker walked into the parking lot of San Diego's Veterans Museum in Balboa Park Monday and declared: mission accomplished.
Hunsucker, a 52-year-old Marine Corps veteran, just finished walking from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Diego, covering 2,650 miles and eight states. He did it to raise money for the Disabled American Veterans organization. The journey was appropriately timed, beginning on Veterans Day 2009 and ending on Memorial Day.
His transportation approach was simple: park his car and walk, then look for someone to give him a ride back to his car so he could bring it forward to his last stopping point. Hunsucker said the veterans he met along the way always helped him get back to his car. Oftentimes they also bought him dinner or give him a room for the night.
"Never stuck my thumb out, never got turned down, never got stood up," Hunsucker said.
But Hunsucker's journey took an important turn two weeks into the trip when a 101-year-old veteran asked him if he could sign the hood of his HHR Chevy. Hunsucker obliged and then got the idea to have every veteran he met along the trip sign his car with a Sharpie.
"I lost count after the first one," Hunsucker said. "It's probably 20,000 or close to it," Hunsucker said. "They're all about the same. They mean the same: honor and bravery and courage."
Now that Hunsucker's walk across America is complete, he plans to put the car up for sale on EBay. He's hoping Jay Leno will get wind of the sale and make an offer, "because we know how much he loves our veterans and he's a car collector."
Hunsucker said he has already raised $800,000 in donations during his walk for Disabled American Veterans. He doesn't feel like he's the one making the sacrifice, though, by giving his time, effort and car to the cause.
"Unbelievable, humbling to meet so many honorable people that served our country to provide us our freedoms," Hunsucker said. "It was an honor to walk for our disabled vets."