JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A group of bicyclists raising money for the Jonesboro DARE Program left from Cardwell, Missouri Friday morning for their 300 mile trek across Arkansas. They plan to get it done in just 24 hours.
"Last year, we were sidelined for about 3½ hours because of rain and lightning and stuff like that, it was 40 degrees. It was absolutely miserable," cyclist Jeff Chastain said.
Friday's journey was a different story. The group of eight men "Bicycling Arkansas for DARE" got off to a great start with great weather.
"We're already 4 hours ahead of where we were last year," Chastain said as they made a quick pit stop in Jonesboro for lunch and a refill on ice and water.
A huge tailwind helped push the group across Region 8 Friday around noon. Averaging 22 miles an hour, they're booking it to make it to Junction City, Louisiana in just one day.
"Y'know, it's a psychological thing. There's really not a lot you can do to prepare for this kind of distance. It's just seat time and being on the bike a bunch, almost every day," Chastain said. "This thing here, it's just mental toughness."
So why push themselves so hard for this? Chastain said, it's simple. Because of the importance of the DARE program to our area.
"We're pulling these trailers and wrapped vehicles through these towns and, y'know, kids are asking their parents what that is and it's a great gateway to get them started in the education and the process of why they don't need to do drugs and alcohol."
"We even had some folks this morning in Cardwell come up and said they were former DARE students and actually donated to us," DARE officer Kevin Foust said.
Between the sponsorships the riders have received and money people have given them, they anticipate raising $8,500 for this one-day event.
"We'll use this money to help our program throughout the school year," Foust explained. "The kid's t-shirts, their curriculum books and the things we give the kids throughout the year so this is gonna be a great help to us for the upcoming year."
Jonesboro DARE officers escorted the group across the state. Some police departments throughout the state also helped escort them through more heavily populated areas.
As of 6pm Friday, the group was in Stuttgart, AR, rounding out the first half of their trip.