The Carthage United Way's 2017-18 fund drive is getting an unusual boost from a man who works at one of the United Way agencies.

The Carthage United Way's 2017-18 fund drive is getting an unusual boost from a man who works at one of the United Way agencies.
Jacob Nevills, a Carthage resident for the past 18 years and employee at Innovative Industries, left on Saturday, Sept. 23, on what he hoped would be an eight-day, 840-mile bicycle ride from Wyandotte, Oklahoma to Alton, Illinois and back to raise money for the Carthage United Way. Trouble on the trail, however, forced Nevills to cut his ride short.
He announced on Facebook on Tuesday he would ride to Alton, but he couldn’t ride back because of an injured leg he sustained in a crash on the KATY Trail near Holt’s Summit.
He said he’d get a ride back to Carthage.
“No one asked him to do this, he was just inspired to do it,” said fund drive co-chair Kelly Hartley, at the fund-drive kickoff earlier in September. “Last year he did a trial run. Before he wanted to do it as a fundraiser, he needed to know he could make the trip, so he made a similar trip last year and this year he's going a little farther. I think he should be recognized for his efforts, because he is making a difference.”
Nevills, who grew up in Cuba, Missouri, said the idea for his ride came from a childhood challenge and a death-bed promise to his dad.
“I was about 15 years old and I was taking a car trip from Joplin to Cuba, Missouri and I pulled myself up to the front seat and told my dad, I said dad, one day I'd like to ride my bicycle from Joplin to Cuba, Missouri, and that was when I was riding twice a day from Carthage to Joplin,” Nevills said. “My dad told me it was impossible, but from that day on I dreamed and dreamed of doing it and when my dad was on his deathbed in 2006, as he was dying, I promised him I would take the trip.”
Nevills made that ride, then he decided to try a longer ride, and use it to raise money for a good cause.
Nevills said Jeff Jones, the director of Innovative Industries, got him in contact with Janet Stafford, the Carthage United Way director.
“I sat down with Janet Stafford about a year ago,” Nevills said. “She gave me the go-ahead and I've been raising money and getting this all together with local businesses for the past year.”
He's selling buttons marking Jacob's Ride for $10 each, with all the proceeds going to the United Way.
The United Way has set a goal of raising $300,000 to support 15 organizations that help less fortunate individuals and people needing medical care in the Carthage area.
The theme for this year's drive is “Pledge to Make a Difference,” and Hartley and Stafford said Nevills is one who is definitely making a difference by himself.
“Jacob is going to be a big part of our fundraising efforts,” Stafford said. “And we really appreciate all his efforts and everything he's done for us.”