STRICKLER — An 1888 poem, “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Thayer, features a “mighty” baseball player, Casey, who watches strikes go by two times and then swings and misses the third time to strike out at bat.
But Casey Jones, 49, a native of Prairie Grove who lives in nearby Strickler, doesn’t watch strikes go by or hasn’t swung and missed. This Casey saw strikes of good ideas coming at him and then connected with them so as to serve the poor in the country of India.
Jones has used his brainchild, named “Miles for Missions,” to raise money for children’s homes in and near Chennai, India, based on miles hiked on two multi-day backpacking trips.
More trips are planned, he said.
Jones said he participated in a 2017 mission trip with Prairie Grove First Baptist Church to that area of India, also known as Madras, located on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, and afterward often thought about the people they helped, especially the children.
He said the people there “want the mission work” his group provided, mostly electrical and some plumbing, and the gratitude he and his group received and his own sense of fulfillment in doing something for others sparked his desire to do more.
However, he said, people who go on mission trips pay their own way, which is costly, and then the coronavirus pandemic struck. He said he kept trying to figure out a way he could help from northwest Arkansas.
“I kept seeing the children in my mind.”
Jones said that several years before 2021, he began walking in the early morning due to sleeplessness, and as he hiked and pondered, his idea of Miles for Missions began to take shape.
The more he walked, the better he felt, he said, and with that, his long-held goal to hike the Ozark Highlands Trail came into reach. He began researching and eventually subscribed to Pitch Perfect, the YouTube channel of a Dallas musician who also does long-range backpacking, and Jones ended up using many of the ideas he learned from the channel to help himself prepare.
After six months of training and plotting the details, Jones started his first Miles for Missions backpacking fundraiser in late February 2021, from the west end of the Ozark Highlands Trail …….