For seven days and 360 miles from Houlton to South Portland, a former Army Guardsman pedaled his 20-year-old mountain bike to raise money for the Family Readiness Group of the 488th Military Police Company based in Waterville.

A Family Readiness Group provides communications and information between deployed military personnel and the families they leave back home, connects families with community resources, and helps families with any problems that arise whether a spouse is deployed or not.

The cause is important to Brian McCarthy, who recently retired from the Maine National Guard’s 488th. He benefited from the organization many times during his 20-year military career. McCarthy, a Windham resident and South Portland police officer, used a week’s vacation to accomplish his goal of raising $1,000 through a GoFundMe page he created in mid June. The total on the page as of Friday stood at $1,860, which will go toward providing events for Guard families during and in between deployments.

McCarthy, wearing a water-filled backpack, a purple shirt and neon green socks, started in Houlton, where a detachment of the 488th MP Co. is located, on Sept. 11 during a rain storm. He then wound his way south on U.S. Route 1, hauling a small trailer his wife bought him at Walmart with a pair of his favorite crocs lashed to the top, peddling Down East and then along the coast through Camden, Wiscasset, Bath, Brunswick and finally on to South Portland.

McCarthy credits friends, family and complete strangers for helping him cover the distance. “People I don’t know opened their homes to me,” he said recently. “Old friends rallied their families and put on a barbecue, some I haven’t seen for 18 to 20 years. Some people I’ve met online and the first time I’m meeting them (in person) is when I show up at their home.”

Finding an appropriate place to park his bike wasn’t always the easiest chore, but traffic wasn’t a problem. “No one ever gave me a hassle,” he said. Even in northern Maine, where he had been warned about pulp trucks, he was allowed plenty of space.

He received a police escort and a warm welcome from his co-workers and family members at the end of his journey in South Portland on Sept. 17.

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