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Cyclist in race to help others

Don Harter of Columbia is expecting to arrive in Farmington this weekend – more than halfway through his trip across the United States as a part of the Trans Am Bike Race.

Harter, 62, retired this spring after more than 30 years as the operations supervisor of the University of Missouri Power Plant.

And, in all that time, he never once had a parking permit. Harter has already participated in 1,000 and 1,500 mile treks – so the idea of participating the Trans Am Bike Race was not too far out there.

Still, Harter enters the race as a rookie and faces the same challenges as veteran riders.

“The challenge is this race is self-supported,” Harter said, “receiving any form of support from other racers, friends, or family is not allowed. All food, accommodations, repairs, everything must be purchased from commercial sources.

“I have no crew and no vehicle following to help make repairs or provide hydration. We can’t even draft each other.”

Harter admits he’s not in the race to win – instead, he’s using his pedal power to help two organizations close to his heart.

One of the organizations Harter is riding to raise money for is Enlace.

“It’s a development organization in El Salvador, Guatemala and now they’ve started doing work in Napal,” he said. “They work in the rural communities mostly in those countries. I compare them to (University of Missouri) Extension – they’re basically a lot of experts on staff in economic development, community help issues and they work with the communities to set priorities on what they want to do to improve their community.

“Then, they come up with a plan – it is mostly the community having ownership in it while providing some expertise in training and coaching.”

He became aware of the organization through his church, Broadway Christian, located in Columbia.

In addition, Harter is involved in scouting. His reasons for riding to raise money for scouting were explained in a press release sent days before his expected arrival in Farmington.

“I’ve organized the District Pinewood Derby Day event for Cub Scouts for 23 years,” Harter said in the release. “Also, each month I host the district roundtable meeting at my church, Broadway Christian.”

The release said Harter was approached by a fellow Scout volunteer, Hank Stelzer, about asking for donations.

“Hank started asking others at the meeting if they would support my ride by donating a penny or dime a mile” to the Great Rivers Council Scoutreach program, to help deter costs of Scouting activities for youth with financial need. Before the end of the meeting they raised nearly $500 dollars.

The Great Rivers Council, Boy Scouts of America serves 33 counties in central and northeast Missouri and serves over 5,000 young people in 250 Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Venturing crews, and Explorer posts.

“My goal is to raise a dollar a mile that can send 16 Scouts to summer camp who might not otherwise get to attend.” Harter stated.

The Great Rivers Council has a page up to accept donations at or you can donate at the council office.

The race started on June 2 and is a total of 4,300 miles – stretching from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, Virginia. The route covers 10 states along most of the TransAm bicycle route, an Adventure Cycling route. It is near the Bikecentennial route from 1976.

Farmington is located on the route. Harter plans to be in the area by this evening.

His progress – along with others on the race – can be found on the RaceTransAm site. He also issues updates on his blog,, found on the donation site.

Donald Harter is riding across the United States as part of the Trans Am Race. Harter admits he's on the ride to raise money for two organizations close to his heart.

Donald Harter is riding across the United States as part of the Trans Am Race. Harter admits he’s on the ride to raise money for two organizations close to his heart.

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or

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