Craig It’s known as the Journey of Hope. For 62 days this summer a cohort of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brothers and alumni will conquer the vastness of the continental United States, cycling 4,000 miles through 32 states and raising over $500,000 in donations for people with disabilities.
Pi Kappa Phi is the only fraternity in the country with its own nonprofit organization, Push America, and 85 percent of the money the philanthropy receives goes back out to the community.
One of the most important aspects of the event is the daily interaction the cyclists have with communities and the relationships they build visiting organizations that serve and support people.
The Journey of Hope, now in it’s 26th year, has grown from Pi Kappa Phi alumnus Bruce Rogers’ solo trip to raise awareness of Push America’s mission of education and compassion, to the 100 plus riders and crew that hit the road each summer, continuing Rogers’ mission.
“I didn’t really know what I was getting into,” crew-member Dan Jeong said of his decision to join Pi Kappa Phi. “I would never have though about doing this kind of volunteer work and hanging out with disabled people. Now it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable. I just see disabled people as, well, people.”
On every stop the cyclists make, they go on a “Friendship Visit” to a local organization that serves people with disabilities. Often, these outings are the most influential aspect of the journey for the cyclists themselves.
“There are a lot of people that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” cyclist Derek Dedeker said, recalling a cancer-stricken six-year-old boy from Salt Lake City named Travis. “He was so happy, so lively, so energetic but he struggles for his life every day. It just kind of smacked me in the face and made me appreciate what I have.”
Andie Tessler can be reached at 970-875-1793 or email@example.com.