MOJAVE, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A one-man marathon to bring attention to programs supporting veteran services was completed Tuesday night in the Mojave Desert, without pomp and circumstance.
The one-man, Bakersfield business owner and community activist Thomas Rockwell, spearheaded the mission and carried it out with an Optimist International representative in a car ahead of him and one from Healing Horses & Armed Forces tailing him.
His efforts to raise money to provide free programs to local veterans have taken him to the highest point in the contiguous United States and to the lowest - all while slinging Red, White and Blue guitars that represent the Bakersfield Sound.
"Thomas Rockwell is a veteran himself," said Charisse Rudolph of Healing Horses & Armed Forces,"Rockwell served in the Navy, but rarely talks about his service." The guitars will be auctioned off to raise money for the non-profit that operates from the Rising Moon Ranch in Tehachapi and offers Equine Assisted Learning for vets and their families.
Rockwell trekked to the top of Mount Whitney several times over 2013. On each trek he would take banners of local businesses to be photographed at the highest point. Tuesday's Marathon through Death Valley aimed to bring awareness to the non-profit, while bringing the musical instruments to the lowest point in North America - 282 feet below sea level.
One of the guitars that Rockwell carried to both Mount Whitney and Death Valley features the autograph of actor William Shatner and the insignias of Healing Horses and the All Glory Project. All Glory, according to its website, is a nonprofit started by Shatner's wife to promote and support programs that use animal-assisted therapies to help military veterans and their families. The musical instruments will be auctioned off at a future event to raise money for the nonprofits.