Quad-Citians Rich Bassford and Robb Osborn soon will embark on what undoubtedly will be a trip to remember. The pair will leave Moline on June 23 and travel to the Gulf of Mexico while collecting donations for the Children's Miracle Network, which raises money for children's hospitals across the country.
The catch? They'll be making the 1,100-mile trip on personal watercrafts, commonly known by the brand-name Jet Skis.
Bassford, a real estate agent for Re/Max from Moline, said he has been riding Jet Skis for 20 years and has often taken a four- or five-day trip to the Ozarks.
Bassford said he wanted to take a longer trip and asked Osborn, a Walmart pharmacist from Rock Island, if he was game.
The pair will ride through 29 locks in six states and will travel along the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Tennessee River, Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, Tombigbee River, Mobile River, Mobile Bay and into the Gulf of Mexico near Gulf Shores, Ala.
Bassford said he expects the trip to take between seven and nine days.
The duo has been planning the trip for about nine months, Bassford said.
With flooding, many service stations in marinas have been shut down, so the two will have an auxiliary gas tank with about 40 gallons of fuel mounted to the watercraft.
They also have installed a GPS system and cameras. They have set up a website, tothegulf.com and a Facebook page to collect donations.
During the trip, they two will upload photos to both sites and are trying to provide some video as they ride, Bassford said.
The toughest part will be riding through the swells, especially in the Mississippi River.
“Your body just takes a beating trying to ride those waves,” he said. “I’ve been riding for 20 years, so I know what to expect. We will just take every day as it comes.”
While it's a trip they definitely can check of their bucket lists, Bassford and Osborn wanted to do some good, too.
Bassford said Re/Max and Walmart have donated to the Children's Miracle Network for many years, so selecting that organization seemed like the logical choice.
Bassford said he hopes that the trip will help raise awareness about the Children's Miracle Network and encourage people to donate.
So far, they have raised $2,000 through donations on their website. The goal, Bassford said, is to raise $10,000 for CMN.
"It's more than just having a life experience or life event," Bassford said.