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Boonville Daily News - Boonville, MO
  • Bike riders bring youth obesity to light

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  • After weighing over 400 pounds last October, Michigan resident Jerry Smith thought a change was needed. This change prompted him to start a non-for-profit organization, About Face Ministries for over weight youth. In addition, Smith also decided to bike to 25 of the fattest cities in the Unites States according to Men's Fitness magazine. On Wednesday the journey brought him to almost 900 miles so far and a stop in Boonville on his way to Kansas City and beyond. The journey, when completed will be a 8,500 mile bike ride across the county, ending in California, a potential Guinness Book of World Record. The bike ride is intended to bring into focus the ever growing problem of over weight youth in this country.
    Smith, along with friend Michael Sode, started the journey in Michigan September 2nd, proceeded to Detroit, and then to Chicago. Smith said that his life was ready for a change.
    "I would spend hours on the computer, especially Facebook," Smith said. A total 360 degree turn it has been for Smith as he now hardly has any time on the computer unless to email and update his Facebook page.
    Smith and Sode said that after reaching Chicago that the journey started to feel more real, a moment they both will not forget.
    After Chicago, the two peddled through Illinois. They both mentioned the rolling hills that almost tempted them to end their journey but they traversed onwards to St. Louis. Missouri brought a different journey as they began the Katy Trail. As they entered the lower Midwest, they were taken back by the generosity of individuals along the way. When arriving in Boonville, they say that the generosity was beyond expected.
    "Chuck's Bikes provided us with new helmets and Julius at Hope Photo let us print some more pamphlets to hand out along our journey," Smith said. "This community by far has been the most gracious and generous place we have traveled to yet. We just want to express our thanks to this community for their help and support."
    They also said they enjoyed the beautiful scenery and communities along the Katy Trail.
    The next city on the tour is Kansas City, and then Tulsa. The two will travel back East and then turn around and head across the southern United States. The idea according to Smith was to travel the Midwest and East before winter started. After 114 days biking across the country the finale of the trip will include a ride to the Biggest Loser Ranch. The Biggest Loser reality show has been an Inspiration for Smith.
    While the ride is the first part of the long journey, the mission of reinforcing positive values, habits and lifestyles upon the youth so they will be able to build their lives and communities, is center to the work of Smith. Smith and Sode plan on devoting their lives to this ministry in helping the 12.5 million obese and 11 million over weight youth in this country.
    Page 2 of 2 - While on their journey, Smith and Sode have asked people to pray for them on their journey. A prayer list is included on their pamphlet. The list and other information is included on their Facebook page at facebook.com/2012catchontour.
    Smith and Sode have used Hebrews 12:1 as a guide to their journey. Hebrews 12:1 says: Therefore we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
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