James Dobson set out two years ago to cycle cross-country to raise money for children with cancer.
He never made it.
Dobson, 32, of Dover, New Hampshire, was killed in November 2018 when his recumbent tricycle was struck by a motorist on U.S. 98 in Lamar County.
He had traveled nearly 1,500 miles with another 1,800 miles to go in hopes of raising $10,000 for the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in New Hampshire. He called the trip his Positive Vibes Tour.
Donations to the fund poured in as people learned of his death, more than doubling the goal he had set.
Now his mother, Cindy Dobson, is training to complete his trip. She plans to begin the trip from Hattiesburg on Nov. 14, 2021, the day after the third anniversary of her son’s death.
Dobson said she had planned to make the trip this year, but because of health issues and the coronavirus, she put off the event.
“Let’s make his death mean something,” Cindy Dobson said in an earlier story. “He would want something positive to come out of this. He was always so positive and very happy. He was always smiling, always trying to help people. He wanted to make people happy.”
She will begin the 1,800-mile trek in Hattiesburg and plans to fly back to Maine from San Diego. The tour will not be a fundraising event, but donations won’t be turned down, Cindy Dobson said. She has started paperwork to establish a 501c3 organization to manage money raised for her son’s cause.
“I am going to finish it for him,” Dobson said. “We ended up raising $132,000, but I’m not doing it for that reason. I’m doing it for James.
“If people want to donate, absolutely. But I’m doing this for James. He’ll be riding with me. I know he will.”
James Dobson was struck from behind by a then-19-year-old from Marion County.
“It’s like it was just yesterday,” Cindy Dobson said during a brief memorial service on the day after the second anniversary of his death. “I keep expecting him to come home.”
Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop J spokesman Sgt. Travis Luck said in an earlier story that driver Hunter Buckley was unable to avoid hitting Dobson.
Buckley was not charged for Dobson’s death. Fifteenth Circuit District Attorney Hal Kittrell said the evidence did not support bringing a case against him.
Jay Ginn, who had witnessed the wreck with his wife, was able to reach Dobson but was unable to help him, Ginn told the Hattiesburg American in an earlier story. The Ginns called 911 and waited at the scene for emergency responders.
“It was something none of us will ever forget,” he said.
First responders from Central Lamar Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the scene shortly after the wreck, said Chief Reggie Ridgway, who lives near the scene of the wreck.
Ridgway attended a brief memorial ceremony for James Dobson on Nov. 14, when Cindy Dobson placed a solar-charged cross, which lights up at night, at the top of the hill near where her son was killed.
Cindy Craig and her husband, Carl Craig, of Chatom, Alabama, came to Hattiesburg for the memorial. The couple had met James Dobson on his last trip, when they accidentally came across him during his journey.
The couple is a Warm Showers host for touring cyclists. They had been waiting for a cyclist from Germany to arrive but also were connected with Dobson who had stopped in Chatom on his way to Mississippi, Cindy Craig said.
The last post James Dobson made on Facebook was two photos of himself with the Craigs and the German cyclist.
“He was wonderful,” Cindy Craig said. “So warm and always smiling. We enjoyed hosting him.”