Fraternity's message of hope rides through Craig

The road trip, a staple in most college student's lives, has become a tradition of sorts even more so for members of a fraternity.

The freedom, the beverage consumption and the opportunity for trouble, all run hand in hand with the age-old tradition.

A fraternity road trip passed through Craig today, however, the trip didn't consist of any fraternity members named Bluto, Otter or Flounder and a car was not their vehicle of choice.

Instead, 35 Pi Kappa Phi's rode through Craig on bikes, and in the process, redefined what the college road trip means.

It is the Journey of Hope Ride Across America, a bicycle trip that is done to benefit the disabled and it also has the power to create change.

"It was a life-changing experience for me," said John Powers, a former Pi Kappa Phi and now director of community and corporate events for Push America. "Journey of Hope made me appreciate what I have and what I can do, it really made me prioritize my life."

Pi Kappa Phi is the only national fraternity to have founded and maintained its own service organization in the Push America program.

In 1977 Thomas Sayre, an architect student at the University of North Carolina and Pi Kappa Phi member, took on a class project to design a playground for the disabled. Sayre's project became the roots of Push America.

From its beginning as a class project to the service organization that it has become today, the program has raised more than $7 million dollars in the name of the disabled.

"Most of the money goes to building structures and playgrounds for the disabled," Powers said. "That, and it helps to supplement the funds for our disability-awareness programs."

A source of pride for the Pi Kappa Phi brothers and their service organization, Push America, is the Journey of Hope ride.

The ride has only been around since 1987, and was started by Bruce Rogers, who wanted to realize his dream to ride across America. Rogers started the fraternity's tradition by riding from Florance Ore., to Yorktown Va., and since then the number of participants has grown from one person to 70.

The Journey of Hope now starts in San Francisco and works its way to the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

After a week of riding, the 70 riders split into two teams, a northern and a southern, that will travel distinctly different routes. The group traveling the northern portion will ride through Craig.

The ride is done by the Pi Kappa Phi's, with the hope of raising awareness, as well as money for the Push America program, though most of the fund-raising is done before a single foot touches a peddle.

"Each rider must raise $4,000 apiece, and the support crew who rides in the vans that accompany the bikers must raise $2,000 apiece," Powers said. "Along with our corporate donations, we'll raise around $350,000 for Push America."

The fund-raising aspect of the ride is not the only stipulation a Pi Kappa Phi must meet before riding. A fraternity member must also hold a top-academic place at their respective school and have demonstrated an exceptional history of community service and volunterism.

"The Journey of Hope is an extreme source of pride for our fraternity. It is something that all members aspire to participate in, and is represented by the best of the best in our organization." Powers said.

The awareness raised by the ride will not fall on deaf ears in Craig. Local disabled-service organizations see the chance for mutual learning.

"It doesn't hurt anybody to learn from somebody else, there are always different ways of doing things," said Evelyn Tileston, director of the Independent Life Center. "I hope that we can pick up something fromthem and their organization, and them from us."

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