Teen Challenge leader finishes 80-mile walk

Monday, September 27, 2010
Jack Smart, executive director of Teen Challenge International of Mid-America, walks along Kingshighway on Thursday. (Kristin Eberts)

Friday morning, the executive director of Teen Challenge of Mid-America in Cape Girardeau and the Teen Challenge Boarding Academy in Patterson, Mo., had finished an 80-mile walk and was about halfway toward his goal of raising $40,000 to continue the ministries.

Dr. Jack Smart walked for three days to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Teen Challenge of Mid-America and to bring attention to the newer boarding academy that works with troubled teenagers. He said a "very generous donor" has pledged a contribution of $40,000 if Teen Challenge can raise enough money to match it. The walk may be over, but the fund drive will go on for a while longer.

"Right now we're at $28,000," Smart said Friday. "We're hoping more folks will step up and give."

The Cape Girardeau facility, Teen Challenge International of Mid-America, has reached more than 6,000 men struggling with addiction, with more than 4,000 of them completing the 10-month program.

Smart walked the distance followed by a Teen Challenge student driving a van. The first day he said he walked about nine hours. By the end of the trip, "I was a lot slower than when we started out," he said.

Along the way, he encountered people who stopped and offered help, thinking his car had broken down.

"One gentleman just east of Marble Hill saw the van and asked if we needed any help," Smart said. "The student explained what was going on, and the guy pulled out a $10 bill. That was neat."

When Smart reached Marble Hill, Don Crader, a member of the Teen Challenge Boarding Academy board, met and walked with Smart for about a mile and a half. Smart also stopped and talked a while with the Rev. Bill Ross of Harmony Baptist Church, also involved in the Teen Challenge ministry.

Doris Hanschen and Joan Burns, who have been Teen Challenge auxiliary board members for nearly all of the 31 years since the auxiliary was formed, prepared a lunch for him.

"We didn't stop too many places," Smart said. "On a long trip it's harder to get started again."

Smart considers the walk a success.

"I believe we're going to get quite a few more funds in," he said. "We're going to try to catch up with past bills and other things. And we're getting the word out about Teen Challenge. That's a big part of it, making sure more people now about who we are and what we do."

Donors may call 335-6508 or 573-576-3895 to make a contribution. Donations or pledges made by Friday will be included in the matching fund.

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