Every journey begins with one step, and Tommy Pasquale’s first step led to the journey of a lifetime. Pasquale recently completed a cross-country walk, raising more than $120,000 for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
From the Smokies of Tennessee to the moody lights of distant cityscapes, to the great expanse of nothingness in Joshua Tree, every step was farther than Pasquale had previously explored.
“I definitely met a lot of really interesting characters along the way,” says Pasquale, who is from Randolph.
After graduating from Seton Hall University in 2020 and working full time in software sales, he realized he wanted to pursue something more meaningful. “Jobs will come and go and I’m going to have more than my fair share of time to be working, to be in an office, to be making money,” he says.
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Roughly 30,000 veterans are currently experiencing homelessness in the United States. Pasquale sought out ways he could do something about it. “The thought of brave men and women going over and serving valiantly and then coming home and having to live under a bridge—that’s tough, and it doesn’t sit right with me,” he says.
So Pasquale left his job, sold his car, and started to plan his route. On September 19, Pasquale’s friends and family gathered at Manasquan Beach to wish him well on his 3,000-mile journey.
Every morning along the way, Pasquale would stretch, listen to music, take a deep breath and say a prayer before heading down the road pushing his tricked-out red-white-and-blue shopping cart filled with his gear. At night, he often camped in a tent. Other times, he stayed with friends and, on a few occasions, in hotels. “When I was missing home a lot, I’d listen to a lot of Springsteen,” he says.
During his walk, Pasquale had the opportunity to speak with several people experiencing homelessness, many of them veterans. He felt encouraged by their desire to share their stories.
Ten pairs of shoes and 143 days later, his journey ended in Venice Beach, California.
Pasquale is currently making the transition from adventurer to author, working on getting the stories of the veterans he met out into the world.