The 21st Century Dads Foundation has set off for their grueling, inaugural Dads Honor Ride to support local charities helping fathers to be more active in their children’s lives. The 21-day, 2,100 mile bike-ride is from Los Angeles to Chicago and concludes on Father’s Day.

A team of noble cyclists started their journey this week at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, which is the future site for the first Boot Camp for New Dads program in Los Angeles. It is among the beneficiaries of the fundraising bike-ride, according to the foundation’s press release.

David Hirsch, president of the 21st Century Dad’s Foundation and the ride’s leader, said, “Let’s face the facts, it takes more to be a dad in the 21st century; society demands more and kids deserve more.” There are currently 24 million children across America growing up without their dads, according to the release.

“Beyond raising funds for fatherhood programs, the ride aims to honor more than 2,100 dads along the route and draw attention to some amazing dads, those unsung heroes, who are overcoming extraordinary challenges,” said Hirsch.

The fathers, wearing helmets and spandex clothing, pedaled to the Family Life Center at St. Francis to meet with friends and family before embarking on their 100+ mile first-day ride to Palm Springs.

New dads, community supporters, and hospital staff gathered in front of the Center’s Parent/Child Statue to salute the cyclists who will endure desert heat, mountain climbs, and distracted drivers in order to raise awareness and funds for local programs that seek to improve lives for children and fathers.

Children from father-absent homes reportedly suffer from an array of problems as they mature: they are more likely to drop out of school, have drug and alcohol problems, become involved with crime and get incarcerated. In addition, they are more likely to have psychological problems and commit suicide.

“At age 54, I’m not entirely sure I’ve got what it takes to do back-to-back 100-mile rides for 21 days,” said Hirsch. “But I’m going to give it my best shot to symbolize the type of commitment it takes to be a great dad.”

The Dads Honor Ride will navigate through eight states including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois before concluding in Chicago on Father’s Day.