GLENSIDE, Pa. (CBS) – A local New Jersey Navy veteran cycled from coast to coast to support a fallen comrade from Glenside. On Saturday, he donated $ 2,000 to the VFW who welcomed him to their home three weeks ago. He hopes his lessons learned along the way will help others who are facing difficult times.
“I feel very small next to you,” Kelly Currie said.
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This is Kelly Currie and the Marine Sgt. Nick Novotny.
“He texted me in February asking my permission to do it,” Currie said.
Until last month, the couple had never met. They were only linked by Currie’s son, Cpl. James Currie.
“This guy comes up to me and he asks me a bunch of questions,” Novotny said.
Novotny was stationed in Hawaii in 2017 when he first met James.
“His connection he had with everyone, no matter who they were, whatever their lifestyle, he had the same connection with everyone,” Novotny said.
Novotny says it was this connection that made James Currie’s sudden death such a shock to everyone in the Third Radio Battalion.
On May 3, 2020, 21-year-old James Currie passed away from alcoholism, something he used to deal with the mental health issues many veterans face.
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“It was difficult because, with COVID, we really didn’t have an official farewell for him,” Novotny said.
Almost a year later, Novotny had retired from the Marines but could not shake the memory of his friend.
“Maybe we can do something, maybe there is a way to bring its history to life, to bring its legacy back to life,” Novotny said.
And that’s when the bike tour came into being. Novotny began on June 25 in Tillamook, Oregon, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles a day through mountains and farmland.
“Yes, Kansas was worse,” said Kelly Currie, James’ mother. “He certainly didn’t like Kansas.”
And while this race may be over, Novotny hopes the message continues.
“The Marine Corps has a very famous saying called ‘kiss it, and I’ll be honest with people, there were parts of the ride that weren’t that great,” Novotny said. “That’s a lot of it. tough days, a lot of escalation, so you just have to come to terms with what you’re into. “
To help others who are going through difficult times and those who have served.
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“That was the most important thing for this bike ride, it’s OK not to be OK,” said Kelly Currie.