Four college students who grew up as childhood friends in Bartlett are biking from Chicago to Niagara Falls this week to raise money for Chance the Rapper's youth empowerment charity SocialWorks.
Austin Hilvert, Tyler Klatt, Will Rajewski and Brenner Wallace started from Union Station in Chicago at 5 a.m. Tuesday and intend to bike more than 80 miles a day on the 600-mile journey.
Along the way they'll be sleeping at campsites and local churches, and posting updates on Instagram and Facebook.
Called "Men With Steeds," the foursome have set up a YouCaring fundraising page at youcaring.com/socialworkschinewchanceartsandliteraturefund-1078243 through which $2,016 had been donated by the end of the first day.
The four members, who attend different Midwestern colleges and have a variety of majors, have chosen the New Chance: Arts & Literature fund as the nonprofit they're supporting.
"If we hadn't been exposed to art and literature in our schools, homes, or community, we believe we would be missing out on a powerful aspect of life," they wrote on their fundraising page. "Seeing so many inspiring artists rise out of Chicago, we see SocialWorks as a perfect way to help open doors for young people who may lack the same opportunities."
The group bicycled nearly 100 miles on their first day, stopping just north of Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Michigan.
"This is the first big bike trip two of the four of us have been on," said Wallace, an education major at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and the son of Bartlett Village President Kevin Wallace.
He counts himself one of the newbies on the journey and marveled that they acquired a week's worth of sights and memories on the very first day.
Following a route taking them up through Detroit, they'll spend the last couple days of the journey bicycling through Canada.
And even after they reach their destination, they'll have another 20 miles to go before catching the train home from Buffalo, New York.