Darryl Cloud was a sergeant in the Marine Corps and served in the Vietnam War, but he has not stopped serving his country. He is currently riding toward the finish of his cross-country bicycle trip in an effort to raise money for wounded veterans.
Cloud started his journey in San Diego at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, and his goal is to get to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, while raising $90,000 for six action-track wheelchairs. The chairs allow veterans to lead a more active life on unpaved surfaces.
The Semper Fi Fund was “designed to help families initially,” Cloud said. “And then they saw the need to help our veterans bridge that gap between where the Veterans Administration lets off and life begins.
“For example,” he continued, “there’s a lot of devices that the government won’t pay for: hand controls for a car, modifying the house for a wheelchair, for example. So we do that for the veterans.”
Cloud, 66, started raising money for the fund in 2009, running 5K and 10K races, as well as half marathons and triathlons.
“And then last year, I wanted to do something really different this year. And that’s when I decided to go ahead and do the cross-country bike tour,” he said.
The “Boot Camp to Boot Camp Tour” came from wanting to have a Marine Corps theme to his fundraising, so he decided to go from one Marine Corps boot camp to another.
He plans to end his bike tour today in Beaufort, South Carolina. He will have ridden more than 2,460 miles in over 45 days, according to his Facebook page.
“Absolutely phenomenal,” Cloud said about his reception across the country. “People have asked me so many times what have I learned out of this. And I’ve learned that we as human beings and Americans really care for one another.”
Cloud said he has had people stop to make sure he was OK, that he had enough water while riding in the desert. One person offered Cloud his own lunch.
“People really care, and the outpouring of support from strangers has just been absolutely incredible,” Cloud said. “If there’s anything that I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed about this, is just how friendly people have been all along the trip.”
Helping fellow veterans is personal to him.
“I consider it a real honor to be able to do something to help these young men and women,” he said.
With recent medical advancements allowing more service members to survive their wounds, Cloud said, “We need to help them bridge that gap so that they can… enjoy a normal life — or as normal as possible.”
When his family members have asked him if he ever thought about giving up, Cloud said he never has, even in situations where it was uncomfortable for him. He said going home never crossed his mind.
“This project is very important to me,” Cloud said, “and it’s very important to the people that it’s benefiting.”