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Jerry Smith and Mike Sode of Lansing, Mich., are on an 8,500 mile bicycle ride to raise awareness for at-risk youth and youth obesity. They are creating hope and inspiring the world by traveling through the 25 fattest cities, according to the Men's Fitness Magazine 2012 list, ending at The Biggest Loser Ranch in Los Angeles, Calif.
In October 2011, Smith weighed 420 pounds. "I tried out for The Biggest Loser and didn't make it, so I decided to do something else," Smith said of his bicycle journey. "To date, I've lost over 158 pounds and The Biggest Loser has been a great inspiration for my weight loss."
Sode had kidney stone removal surgery in November of 2008 that left him with severe disc damage and permanent nerve damage. "I was told I would never be able to walk without a walker or cane," said Sode of his surgery. "I proved them wrong."
The pair left Michigan on Sept. 2, 2012, with $100. "We've been through every type of weather, from hurricanes and tornadoes, to snow and ice," said Smith.
"We plan on opening youth centers throughout the country," Sode said. "We want to inspire people with healthy change and encourage people to live a life of intentional love."
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 12.5 million U.S. youth are obese and another 11 million are overweight. Together, they represent nearly one in three children and adolescents in America â€” an epidemic by any measure. Smith's and Sode's mission, through About Face Youth Ministry, is to foster and reinforce values, habits and lifestyles upon which the youth will be able to build their lives and community.
"The weather has us stuck in Sweetwater for a few days, and we'd like to thank Holiday Inn Express for putting us up," the pair said.
Donations to help the pair with their youth organization and their journey can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org through PayPal or Wal-Mart ecard. Donations can also be mailed to Citizens Bank, 2285 N. Cedar, Holt, MI 48842, c/o About Face Youth Ministries. All donations are tax deductible.
About Face Youth Ministry was founded by Jerry Smith, Lead Pastor. He can be contacted at 517-974-8811. Mike Sode is the Youth Director as well as a Pastor. He can be contacted at 770-256-5749.
Follow Jerry and Mike on Twitter @thecatchontour and visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/2012catchontour.