E.L. Smith, who is making the 1,658-mile trip with Charles France, attempted the trip in 2000 with his son, Patrick. Smith had a stroke in Conway, Ark., cutting the trip short. Earlier this year, Smith had two heart attacks. He recovered enough to make another try.
"We're doing this for the mammogram fund for the Freeman Foundation," said Smith. "My ex-wife, Debbie, is a five-year cancer survivor. I know a lot of people who got breast cancer. We're trying to do something for the community."
Smith carries a letter of reference from Kim Simpson, donor relations coordinator for the Freeman Foundation in Joplin. The Helping Friends Mamogram Fund, supported by the Freeman Foundation, helps people with little or no insurance to get mammograms.
Smith's wagon was built specifically for the trip. The wood was provided by the Chapman Sawmill in Neosho. Miami Machine donated the welding and built the undercarriage and the brakes.
"Me and Mr. France needed a vacation," Smith said. "We're taking it easy and doing something good for the community."
The duo and their horses, Dick and Marie, left Miami on Oct. 1 and expect to make the trip in three to four months. Donations can be sent directly to the Freeman Foundation 1102 W. 32nd St., Joplin Mo. 64804. Smith is also accepting checks that he will deliver to the foundation.