Editor’s Welcome: Cooperative employee goes distance for members, ministry


In his work life as a quality of service technician, Casey Jones, a 28-year employee of Ozarks Electric Cooperative, inspects miles and miles of poles.

In his free time, Casey hikes miles and miles for charity.

It started in 2017 when he visited India as part of a mission trip with his church, Prairie Grove First Baptist.

Ozarks Electric Cooperatives’ Casey Jones, left, raises money for children in India via his hiking ministry, Miles for Missions. Casey’s 11-year-old nephew, Maverick Conner, right, joined the latest hike in June. COURTESY OF CASEY JONES

In India, he says, “I saw the need that they have over there, especially the kids. I went into several children’s homes to give them any assistance in any way I could. It ended up that they blessed me more than I ended up blessing them.”

The trip ended after two weeks. The memories persisted.

“One of the things that I really enjoy doing — and started doing more in my adult life — is hiking,” Casey says. “Often when I was out hiking, I’d think about those kids. … I really felt God saying, ‘You need to make this about more than just you walking in the woods.’”

And Miles for Missions was born. In late February of 2021, Casey embarked on a 164-mile solo trek on the Ozark Highlands Trail. Sponsors — from church and his sister’s social media efforts — signed up to donate maybe a quarter or a $1 per mile. “I was thinking I’d raise maybe $150 total for the whole thing,” he says, adding with a laugh, “I was pleasantly surprised.” He raised $11,200.

In June of this year, Casey took on more miles and more hikers. He was joined by two adults and two children, including his 11-year-old nephew, for a 37-mile hike on the Buffalo River Trail. Donations are still coming in; so far, they’ve raised $8,900. That’s more than $20,000 that Miles for Missions has raised for children’s homes in India.

And Casey is just getting started. He has hikes planned for 2023 and 2024. Anyone interested in donating to the cause can visit Prairie Grove First Baptist Church’s website (pgfirst.com/give) and select Miles for Missions as the fund.

Casey says, “It continues to show me that there are more things out there than just me, even outside of my wife and my kids. There are things that we can be doing — and enjoy doing — that make a difference in people’s lives.”

This month, National Co-op Month, we celebrate all the many difference-makers in our cooperative family who travel great lengths — figuratively and literally in Casey’s case — to care for our communities.

Jennifer Christman Cia is the editor of Arkansas Living. Want to share feedback or a story idea? Email: jennifer.cia@aeci.com.