Student journeys down Mississippi River


Counting in at mile 1,526 as of  Oct. 16, Jon Detweiler has canoed with only a few supplies and his cousin Ben all the way from the Sugar Creek, Ohio area to Jackson, Miss. The ultimate goal is to end up in the Gulf of Mexico. Detweiler took a semester off to do the trip, and has one semester left as a Bible and theology major.

He came up with the idea while writing a theology paper late one night.

Senior Bible and theology major Jon Detweiler holds a lizard he found in his travels down the Mississippi River. Detweiler is currently on a canoe trip that will lead him from Ohio to the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Jon Detweiler)

“One of my frontiersman heroes did this journey himself way back in the 1700s,” Detweiler said. “That helped influence why I chose canoeing, and because I don’t know many people who have done a trip like this.”

Detweiler grew up in a farm and has had trouble adjusting to the city life of Canton. He described the trip as a kind of escape.

The trip is serving as more than just an escape for Detweiler. It is also meant to help raise awareness for Iris ministries. They have raised about 30,000 dollars for the organization so far, according to Detweiler.

“They do things like just drive into the street and pick up street children. As my dad would say, ‘It’s great ground to sow into,'” Detweiler said.

Along the way he has come across many giving hearts.

“A little Mennonite church we went to in Jackson, Miss., heard our story and raised us two hundred dollars for the organization. That’s enough to support a pastor’s Bible training for a year,” Detweiler said.

The theme from the whole trip for Detweiler has been God’s provision and protection.

“We have run into zero trouble and God has provided with things like food even,” Detweiler said.

People along their trip have cooked them food and bought groceries for them.

“We budgeted one thousand dollars for food expenses and this whole trip we have maybe only one hundred and twenty,” he said.  “The Lord’s provision and protection for those who are doing his work is amazing.”

Detweiler is traveling down the Mississippi River in a canoe, and plans to continue until he reaches the Gulf of Mexico. The estimated end date for the trip is Nov. 3. (Photo courtesy of Jon Detweiler)

“Every time we asked someone if we could camp on their lawn or down by the river on their property they have said yes,” Detweiler said. “I was sure someone was going to be terrified.”

The duo has been blogging their travels and have even started a website telling of their journey, their cause and tracking them at every stop they make along the way on what they call Sugar 2 Salt.

Sugar because they started from the Sugar Creek, Ohio and Salt because that’s the water they plan to end up in when they reach the Gulf of Mexico. So far Detweiler predicts this will be around Nov. 3, right on track with their plans.

The stopping point is at the southern tip of Louisiana, about 100 miles south of New Orleans.

Detweiler’s uncle Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine will be performing in the Memorial Chapel on Oct. 28.  They plan to collect donations for the canoeing trip there.

Chelsea Weikart is managing/news editor for Aviso AVW.

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