- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

LAUREL, Miss. (AP) - Jones County native Josh Presley is gearing up to take on the challenge of cross-country cycling to assist a group that supports the Semper Fi Fund.

Presley, of Laurel, has found a way to reach out to those in need while doing something that he loves - outdoor sporting activities.

A graduate of Northeast Jones High School, he attended Jones County Junior College and the University of Southern Mississippi; however, Presley found his love in the great outdoors, hiking, biking and enjoying the environment.

“I’ve always had an adventurous spirit,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of long distance running.”

In 2011, Presley hiked through the Appalachian Mountains, beginning in northern Georgia and ending in northern Maine. That adventure took six months and 27 days.

Presley recently began training for another adventure: He is planning a cross-country bicycle ride that will take him several months to complete.

Presley has already completed 26.2-mile marathon in support of the Semper Fi Fund.

“Each year I run the Marine Corps Marathon in (Washington) D.C., which is the third largest in the United States,” he said. “This year, it will be in October and it will be my fourth year doing that marathon.”

Presley said he participates in the event each year in support of his friend, Trey LaFitte, a Marine veteran who was injured in service.

During the marathon, LaFitte does hand cycling while Presley runs.

However, Presley admits that the upcoming cross-country event that will begin in May is a big challenge.

He said he enjoys physical activity and the marathon made him appreciate it even more.

“I’ve done a lot of outdoors activities,” he said. “I’ve worked in Colorado and Alaska in the outdoors industry.”

In Alaska, Presley worked with Alaska Mountain Guides.

However, Presley admits that the majority of his adventures have been for fun.

“I’ve been doing some small stuff to have fun,” he said. “Then over the summer, a good friend (Megan Taylor) from Phoenix, Arizona, called and asked me about doing a cross-country biking trip.”

Presley said he met Taylor on a hike in 2011 and they have remained in contact.

In 2012, they “went to Inyo National Forest in California to hike Mount Whitney, which is the highest point in the continental U.S.”

Presley said next month he and Taylor are planning to attempt a cross-country tour on road bikes.

“We will be going from Astoria, Oregon, to Bar Harbor, Maine,” he said. “It will be over 5,000 miles and some nasty terrain.”

Presley said he will leave the local area later this month to be ready to begin the journey on April 26. He said the adventure is projected to take about three and a half months.

“We’ve estimated it to be a little under four months based on an average of 54 miles a day for six days (per week) with one day off,” he explained. “Hopefully we will be able to stick to this schedule.”

Presley said they will be doing the event in an effort to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund.

“This is an organization that helps the injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families,” he said. “These soldiers have the hearts of lions. They don’t give up. So, the very least we can do is give back to them.”

Presley said through the funds, he is able to raise and hope to help many.


Information from: The Chronicle, https://www.thechronicle.ms

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