PHOENIX — Dream City Church pastor Luke Barnett and his daughter Annalee set out on the adventure of a lifetime, hiking the 800 mile Arizona Trail through the entire length of the state.
“It’s so much fun to be able to do something as incredible as the Arizona Trail with your dad,” said Annalee. “I was having the time of my life just because we get to talk, we get to hike every day together.”
Father and daughter tackling the grueling 800-mile trek with a bigger goal in mind, to raise money for the Short Creek Community of Colorado City and Hildale, on the border of Arizona and Utah, where polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs used to rule.
“That’s our goal to change Arizona, to change Colorado City,” said Annalee. “You never expect to see a city like that in America. You think America's not third-world, but when you go into that city it really is.”
Days turned into weeks, but mile after mile, they were making it. Until a routine day, nearly turned deadly.
While hiking the Superstition Mountains, a boulder estimated to weigh between 8,000 and 10,000 pounds fell on Luke as he pushed his daughter out of the way.
“I remember thinking to myself, I don't want to die out here,” said Luke. “I knew I was hurt really bad. Everything got real gray around me. All the color went out of my eyes. Somehow that boulder missed my head and missed my spine. I really shouldn't be alive today, it truly is a miracle.”
While Barnett was recovering in the hospital, Annalee set out to finish what they started.
“I said Annalee, this hike has to go on. You have to finish this thing,” said Luke.
“It was very difficult to do it without my dad the first week,” Annalee added. “But, just hearing that my dad was recovering and how well he was doing, that just made it easier.”
Barnett made an incredible recovery and a couple weeks later, walked Annalee past the finish line.
“I actually asked him if he’d be well enough to be there because I thought it would be really cool if we could walk across together. “
“I met her about a quarter mile from the end,” said Luke. “We walked the final quarter mile together and broke the finish line tape and just celebrated together.”
A total of 800 miles in 47 days and a near death experience. It's a story of a father’s love for his daughter, and their unwavering desire to help a community in need.
“We don’t believe the church should just be a bureaucratic institution to just keep the doors open, we should be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Dream City Church has helped raise around $1 million for the Short Creek community.