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Marine hopes to raise awareness and honor friend by biking across America

(Update: Adding video, comments from Novotny, mother of passed Marine)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Nick Novotny is putting his body and mind to the test, in honor of a friend.

"What better way to challenge yourself mentally and physically than riding your bike across America,” Novotny said Friday during a stop in Bend.

Novotny, from New Jersey, is riding across the country to raise awareness and support for the Wounded Warrior project in honor of his friend, Cpl. James Currie, who died on May 3, 2020.

His journey began in Tillamook, Oregon, yet this week he's stopping in Bend.

He will be traveling across 10 states and pedal more than 4,000 miles to Glenside, Pennsylvania, James's hometown.

"A lot of things are just subject to change, that's definitely the case,” Novotny said. "I'm only seven days into this thing. I think once I hit Day 40 and 50, that's where it's going to become more of a mental thing."

Novotny said with the pandemic, he couldn't find the right way to pay his respects to James.

"So a lot of folks didn't even get to wish him goodbye and now there's this opportunity to celebrate his life again and bring light to someone who had a real positive effect on a lot of people he interacted with,” Nick said. 

Novotny was in the Marines for six years and met Currie on base in Hawaii in 2017. 

He said in 2019, Currie was dealing with the death of a friend, and issues with alcohol started to increase.

Eventually, he turned to drugs, and his mother Kelly says he took a laced pill that led to his death.

"I can't change that, but maybe me telling you this will help one other family not have to do this then, I will want to tell anyone who will listen,” Kelly said. 

She said Nick doing this ride in honor of her son means a lot. 

Kelly Currie barely knew Novotny when he first had this idea, but since it's started, she's met with a number of James' friends.

"They're giving me pieces of my son that I didn't have, and that is irreplaceable,” Kelly said. 

The journey will end with a barbecue to celebrate James' life, and Novotny's completed ride to raise awareness about the issues of mental health in the marines. 

He feels the best way to honor James' life is trying to save someone else's.

"Reach out a hand for someone in need, because I think a lot of times people don't want to say stuff, they don't want to drag someone down into their problems, they don't want to do that,” he said. “So this might help them, but seeing this story, seeing this guy, like, 'Hey I can be that change,' or, 'I can get help, because it's normal'."

Novotny has more information on his journey and a link to donate on his website, through the Wounded Warrior Project.

Central Oregon / Local News / News / Top Stories / video - DO NOT USE / War-Military
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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.

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