Push for America cyclists in town to raise money for disabled

— Some fraternity members are stereotyped as drunken college kids living a carefree life of excess.

That's not the brothers of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

Their message is one of acceptance and understanding for people with disabilities across America.

As they cycle from San Francisco, Calif., to Washington, D.C., the fraternity brothers are making friends every mile.

The 3,000-mile Journey of Hope is a part of Pi Kappa Phi's non-profit organization, Push for America - the only Greek organization to organize and maintain its own national philanthropy.

With a single mission of building leaders of tomorrow by serving people with disabilities today, a team of 28 cyclists will arrive in Craig on Friday to visit with clients of Horizons Specialized Services.

Craig is a familiar area for the fraternity brothers; this Friday marks their fifth annual visit.

When contacted five years ago by the Push America organization, Silvia McFeater, Horizons Specialized Services vocational coordinator, had no question their presence would lighten the spirits of Horizons clients.

"We tell the clients the 'men in tights' are coming," McFeaters said. "And their faces light up."

McFeaters believes the strong character of the men is a product of their trek across America.

"This is a great group of disciplined men," said Silvia "They are professional, yet so compassionate, as they interact with the patients."

Horizons is welcoming the cyclists to the community with a barbecue at Loudy Simpson Park. Interactive games will be played to help the men connect with the Horizons clients.

Each summer, the fraternity raises $500,000 to build hope for the future of people with disabilities. A portion of that total, about $1,000, will be given to Horizons.

Debbie Schneider, Horizons Specialized Services day program coordinator, is a new face to the Horizons staff. This is her first year as head of the welcoming committee for Journey of Hope cyclists.

Schneider is anxious for their arrival.

"I am excited for them to come," Schneider said. "It will be neat to see them interact with the clients."

Similar to the cyclists from the Ride the Rockies bicycle tour, Journey of Hope cyclists will pitch tents and camp on the Moffat County High School practice field.

With 28 states left to visit, the fraternity brothers continue their journey Saturday to Steamboat Springs.

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos can be reached at 824-7031 or mkraftopoulos@craigdailypress.com

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