Jasmine Reese knew she would be giving up some creature comforts when she began an cross-country bike ride, but no way was she going without her dog, Fiji.
Originally from Los Angeles, Reese, 24, is fundraising for the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation by riding her bike from New York to San Diego. She took a two-day break in Effingham Thursday, allowing her and Fiji to rest up and cool off.
Reese chose the foundation after working for it while enrolled at Columbia College of Missouri.
“A lot of people I worked with had diabetes and were losing their sight,” Reese said.
Watching others experience the loss of sight and knowing she herself had diabetes brought her to a personal revelation.
“I knew it was time to get my life together,” she said.
She wanted to exercise, but couldn’t stand the thought of setting foot in a gym, so Reese took up cycling and gradually worked up to day-line rides.
When she decided to hit the road for her cause, she knew she couldn’t leave Fiji, her adopted pitbull-boxer-whippet mix, behind with a friend.
“Once I get an animal, I keep it for life,” she said.
Reese saved Fiji from euthanasia and now the 45-pound dog rides behind her in a pet trailer. However, on days when it’s cool enough she runs on a leash beside her.
The two travel between 30 and 70 miles a day, depending on heat and elevation, and ride for up to 10 hours a day, but rest days have become more frequent lately as summer temperatures rise.
Even though Reese has a tent among her 125 pound of supplies she carries with her, she has been able to rely on the kindness of strangers for shelter or money for hotel rooms.