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updated: 6/19/2014 11:38 AM

Barrington men go on a long ride for a very good reason

Brothers and their team journey cross country as part of fundraiser

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  • Video: Biking Across America

 
 

The desire to spend the summer making a difference led a team of young men to go on a coast-to-coast bike trip across America to raise money for a school in Honduras.

Perhaps most impressive is that before setting out on their journey, none of the cyclists had ever done any long distance riding before. But the group, called "Riding For a Reason," insists that anyone can do it.

"What we're doing is not a very complex task," Brennon Mobley, who has ridden an average of 80 miles a day every day since May 15, said. "We're regular guys, but we want to use this unique opportunity of this summer to bless someone else."

Another cyclist on the team put it more bluntly.

"We're just kids riding bikes," J.D. Hartwig said.

The team stopped in Barrington Wednesday to take their first day off in more than a month.

Two members of the team, brothers Jefferson and Jenkins Brown, grew up in Barrington and attended Barrington High School.

Jefferson Brown drives his large white Ford truck, which serves as the team's support vehicle, and is in charge of plotting the team's course from Seaside, Oregon, to Washington D.C.

Jenkins Brown chronicles the trip with his camera. He posts regular update videos on the team's website and is making a documentary about the trip to inspire other people to try to accomplish big goals for themselves.

The fifth and final member of the team, James Richfield, injured his tailbone while riding through South Dakota and had to take a plane back to Nashville to recover.

Most of the team met while attending Belmont University in Nashville. After determining that they wanted to make a difference with one of their final summer vacations, they partnered with 147 Million Orphans, a nonprofit organization that seeks to fulfill the basic needs of children in need and bring awareness to the orphan crisis.

The organization flew the team out to Honduras to see the school that will receive the money the team is raising on their cross-country journey.

"That trip to Honduras is what made it real," Hartwig said, who added that it made him feel responsible to the children he met. "Even if it's raining or you feel tired, you feel sore and you don't want to ride, little things like that don't tend to matter when you feel responsible to someone else."

Along the way, the team has benefited from the kindness of many strangers, some of whom have housed and fed them.

Jefferson Brown said one of the best memories on the trip so far was meeting a man named Randy who owned a restaurant in northern Idaho. Jefferson Brown said Randy let them eat for free and camp outside the restaurant so they didn't have to pay at a campsite.

"And then he took us out fly fishing in the morning," Jefferson Brown said. "It was really like the best surprise because we went from not having any idea of what was going on to being like the coolest day of the trip."

The team has raised around $36,000 out of their $50,000 goal so far. They are underwriting all of their travel expenses so all of the money goes to 147 Million Orphans.

The team accepts donations at their website ridingwithareason.com.

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