20 miles a day for 40 days: Dad and daughter to hike 800 miles to raise $1 million for Hildale refuge

On Sept. 27, Luke Barnett, head pastor of Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, and his daughter Annalee Barnett set out on the Arizona Trail to hike approximately 800 miles to the Mexico border in an effort to raise $1 million for the Short Creek Dream Center.

Luke Merideth, director of Short Creek Dream Center, said the idea for the hike came when Luke Barnett approached him and said that he and his daughter were going to hike 20 miles a day for 40 days to raise funds, spread awareness and help give the center a kickstart in its “new season.”The Short Creek Dream Center is housed in the former residence of Warren Jeffs, the polygamist leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and convicted felon. In 2017, the residence was acquired by the Phoenix Dream Center and has since been converted into a safe house and refuge with the ability to provide residential life recovery care to 88 people.

“I think it’s well-over a million steps to raise hopefully a million dollars, to pour into this dream center, to pour into this community,” Merideth said.

The Arizona Trail stretches the length of the state of Arizona – from the Utah-Arizona border to the Arizona-Mexico border – coursing through deserts, forests, canyons and mountains. As of Wednesday morning, the Barnetts were nearly halfway to the Mexico border and are expected to cross the bridge near the Roosevelt Dam on Friday.

“We’re going to have a bunch of our people there cheering them on,” Merideth said.

In a video interview with the Barnetts before they embarked on their 800-mile journey, Barnett talked about the reasons this cause was important to him.

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