Craig welcomes Journey of Hope riders | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig welcomes Journey of Hope riders

Fraternity raises funds, awareness for disabled people with annual cross-country cycling tour

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Craig welcome Journey of Hope cyclists with high-fives Thursday. Journey of Hope is a program with The Ability Experience through Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, which raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities. Riders bike thousands of miles across the country each summer. While in Craig, participants also visited clients of Horizons Specialized Services.

With more than 1,000 miles behind them thousands and more to come in the coming days, a group of cyclists pulled into the Boys & Girls Club of CraigBoys & Girls Club of Craig Thursday afternoon showing no signs of being worn out, their mind on a mission to educate and enrich lives. Thursday afternoon showing no signs of being worn out, their mind on a mission to educate and enrich lives.

Boys & Girls Club of Craig Thursday afternoon showing no signs of being worn out, their mind on a mission to educate and enrich lives.

The Journey of Hope, part of The Ability ExperienceThe Journey of Hope, part of The Ability Experience, visited Craig this week as part of a cross-country bike excursion that travels nearly 4,000 total miles with many stops throughout the nation called “friendship visits” to raise awareness for people with mental and physical disabilities., visited Craig this week as part of a cross-country bike excursion that travels nearly 4,000 total miles with many stops throughout the nation called "friendship visits" to raise awareness for people with mental and physical disabilities.

The Journey of Hope, part of The Ability Experience, visited Craig this week as part of a cross-country bike excursion that travels nearly 4,000 total miles with many stops throughout the nation called "friendship visits" to raise awareness for people with mental and physical disabilities.

The North Route team consists of 38 total participants — 28 riders and 10 support crew members — who started June 12 in San Francisco and will end their ride Aug. 13 in Washington, DC to support the work of fraternity Pi Kappa Phi.

Each cyclist is responsible for raising at least $5,500 as part of their entry, said Andrew Bublitz, project manager for the tour, with three separate groups raising more than $600,000.

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Bublitz took on the challenge last year on a bike and chose to continue working with the organization, which has many riders who train two to three years in advance in some cases.

"These guys are taking their entire summer and dedicating themselves to this cause," he said. "It's some of the most physically demanding stuff you can do to spend anywhere from five to 15 hours on a bike, pedaling, going over mountains."

Due to lingering lightning in the area, cyclists were unable to make a grand entry coming off US Highway 40 at the Boys & Girls Club on their two-wheeled conveyances but received a hero's welcome nonetheless.

Kari Neuman, unit director for the Craig club, said Journey of Hope is a program kids look forward to seeing each year, for as long as she has been part of Boys & Girls Club.

"Just the awareness that they raise is so impactful for the kids," she said.

In addition to dropping by the club to interact with kids, whether through a discussion of bike safety or a round of kickball or shooting hoops, riders also met with members of Horizons Specialized ServicesHorizons Specialized Services for a picnic later in the day. for a picnic later in the day.

Horizons Specialized Services for a picnic later in the day.

Nick Pellegrini, of Alamo, California, said he was inspired to join the Journey of Hope as a result of a former high school classmate who had participated in the ride.

"He was a few years older, but I thought to myself, 'I'd really like to do something like that when I'm older,'" he said. "I got started working with the kids and realized this is something I really want to do. Coming to places like this really re-energizes you."

The 20-year-old said he was pleased to be able to devote two months to the activity, both the cycling and the time in between, spent meeting with children to spread the organization's message and to engage people with disabilities.

"I think it's important to realize that all people have different abilities whether we're the same or not," he said. "We just want to show people that ability outweighs disability."

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.