A map of the route to be used on the Crossing of America tour, expected to arrive in New York in early September. (Crossing of America)
Talk about your epic summer road trips: Two Jeeps sporting flag-flapping custom paint jobs, more than 12,500 miles of open road zigzagging from sea to shining sea and a lineup of drivers ranging from A-list actors and athletes to former prisoners of war and Medal of Honor heroes. And maybe even you.
Dubbed the Crossing of America Tour, the fundraising cannonball run started from the deck of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego on May 27, kicking off the Memorial Day weekend and a 105-day journey set to end on the deck of Intrepid, another aircraft carrier-turned-museum, in New York Harbor as the nation prepares to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Painted by airbrush legend Terry "Kiwi" Stephens, the pair of Wranglers will traverse 43 states and the District of Columbia, said Richard Rovsek, chairman of marketing firm M2000, who is spearheading the effort.
The tour is designed to raise money for the Spirit of Liberty Foundation, which supports wounded warriors, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which helps the families of fallen troops. Boosters may pledge money by the mile, sponsor sections of the trip in the name of troops killed since 9/11 or bid to own either of the Jeeps in an auction that will end on Intrepid during closing ceremonies Sept. 8.
Or, for $250, you can drive a leg of the trip yourself.
Actor Harrison Ford, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard and astronaut Alan Bean have already signed up to take the wheel. Former Ranger Tim Abell, host of Outdoor Channel's "Grateful Nation," will drive a section alongside retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Schlitz, a fellow Ranger who lost both hands and suffered burns on 85 percent of his body in Iraq.
With recent veterans serving as crew chiefs for the Jeeps, the tour will make pit stops at military installations and medical facilities across the U.S.