One man is riding on one horse, with a goal to travel through the nation. Tye Sturgeon, 20, of Arkansas, was riding horseback across the state of Illinois this past week. Sturgeon is making a three-year journey to travel across 48 states for a foundation called Western Wishes.
“Western Wishes is a nonprofit organization that raises money to grant wishes to kids with an illness ... ,” Sturgeon said.
Judie Childress of Sugar Grove caught wind of Sturgeon’s travels from Facebook. She quickly offered open doors to Sturgeon as a place to stay for the night when he was in the area.
“I found out from the riding group that I’m with. We all communicate a lot with each other," Childress said. "Tye stayed with one of our friends, and she let us know he was looking for a place to stay.”
Sturgeon doesn’t always “get this lucky” finding places to stay. He often has spent nights just sleeping on the ground, he said.
“We are enjoying having him and being part of his journey,” Childress said.
Sturgeon started his endeavor in his hometown of Batesville, Arkansas. In order to get to Illinois, he had to cross the Mississippi River, he said.
“I was at Chester Bridge to cross the Mississippi," Sturgeon said. "The authorities shut down the entire bridge for 10 minutes so my horse and I could cross. I had to be the only person in 100 years to have the bridge shut down so I could ride across. It was pretty cool."
Different people in history have made the journey across 48 states. Sturgeon believes his travels are different – he could be the first person to travel using one horse for the whole ride.
“People have used two horses before – one for packing and one for riding,” Sturgeon said. “I’m riding Edward and packing Edward for all 48. One man has rode one horse from coastline to coastline before. If you can do that, I can travel 48 states with one horse.”
Sturgeon’s plans for the near future include riding into Wisconsin.
“I’m going to ride up into Wisconsin and then come back down and do like a horseshoe around Chicago. From there, I’m going to go through the states on my way to Maine. Then onto New York,” Sturgeon said.
Along the way, Sturgeon stops at churches and schools to give speeches about the work that the Western Wishes does for kids, he said. He also takes pledges from people; the pledges will be paid at the end of his journey.
Anyone can make a pledge at americanwishride.com. Sturgeon’s goal for the journey is to raise $30,000 for the organization.
“Whenever you want to do something, you have to have vision. You have to have your goals in line,” Sturgeon said.