CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Shortly after getting off his bicycle Monday afternoon, Steve Stewart got a hug and kiss from his 4-year-old niece, Emma Grace Donnelly.
She had come with her grandmother from Indiana to see her uncle finish a bike ride that exceeded 3,500 miles and ended at the state Capitol Complex.
"She and her brother have missed their uncle," said Mona Francis, Stewart's mother.
For the past seven weeks, Stewart, a Frankfort, Ky., resident, has ridden his bike to the 10 states with the nation's highest childhood obesity rates: Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.
On the final day of the "Integrity Challenge" ride, Stewart rode from Grayson, Ky., to the Capitol steps.
Stewart's mission was to raise awareness about childhood obesity and also to bring attention to a program he's helped develop. A former special education teacher, Stewart took a night job a few years ago so he would be free during the days to work on a video-based program called "Sound Off."
The program combines physical activity with phonics lessons, and allows teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade to give students 20 minutes of moderate activity while reinforcing basic reading skills.
So far, the program is being used in seven schools in five Kentucky counties.
Stewart and a team of Kentucky educators developed the program because of their shared frustration that they were asked to increase physical activity time and raise test scores without the resources to do so, he said.
Of his team members, Stewart was in the best shape and volunteered for the challenge to bring attention to the program. He traveled the entire way alone with no one following him for support.