By: ERIN STRIDE – Staff Writer
This summer, University of Dayton Pi Kappa Phi service fraternity brothers Ryan Brown and Matt Franklin will spend two months cycling from the west coast to Washington, D.C., on separate routes to raise money, awareness and understanding for persons with disabilities.
Their 4,000 mile treks are part of Journey of Hope, an event organized by Push America, a Pi Kappa Phi philanthropic organization devoted to serving people with disabilities and instilling lifelong service in fraternity members, according to www.pushamerica.org, the nonprofit’s official website.
Beginning in 1988 with a crew of 21 brothers and a $20,000 fundraising objective, this year’s JOH has a fundraising goal of $650,000 and three 35-member teams traveling along separate routes, each dedicated to promoting awareness and working firsthand with special needs individuals along the way, according to the website.
Each crew will travel either the North, South or TransAmerica route, which all end in D.C. on Aug. 2, and begin in San Francisco, Long Beach, Calif., and Seattle, Wash., respectively.
Brown, president of the UD Pi Kappa Phi chapter and a junior accounting and operations management major, said he will work as manager of logistics and corporate sponsorships, and drive with the cyclists for the South team, which departs June 6 at 8 a.m.
After each day of cycling, the South team will stop in one of 50 different cities along the route, according to the website.
“Every night you do a ‘friendship visit,’” Brown said. The visits involve “pairing up with a local organization in the city for people with disabilities, whether it’s Special Olympics or a summer camp,” he said. “We play wheelchair basketball or go bowling and just hang out with them.”
Brown said a check is often given to the local organizations, the funding of which comes from the sum raised by the cyclists and crew. He said the organizations also receive donations and corporate sponsors through JOH.
Each crew member and cyclist must raise $2,500 and $5,500, respectively, to qualify to participate in the event. Brown said his goal is $3,000 and has created a Facebook page, “Journey of Hope 2014: Ryan Brown,” to help reach it. He said for every $10 donated during April, the donor is entered into a raffle for a $50 Flyer Enterprises gift card.
Brown said he wants to have a meaningful experience this summer and that helping those with disabilities will show them what they can do instead of focusing on what they cannot do.
“I’m most excited about actually getting to make a difference in their lives and be a friend,” Brown said, calling that experience “the coolest part of the trip.”
Franklin, a sophomore entrepreneurship and marketing major and Pi Kappa Phi brother, will be participating as a crew member on the TransAmerica route, which departs May 28 at 8 a.m. He said his responsibilities include the duties of finance and equipment manager, working as a driver and directing and navigating for the cyclists as they journey across the country.
“When else in my life am I going to be able to do something like this? You don’t get another chance for this amazing opportunity,” Franklin said.
Franklin said he will get to experience the best of both worlds during the journey: spending an entire summer with Pi Kappa Phi brothers while meeting and learning about those with disabilities and positively impacting their lives.
Logan O’Keefe, a sophomore premed major, said a main reason she chose to attend UD was because of service opportunities like Journey of Hope.
“I have the utmost respect for all those involved for completing this task for such a wonderful cause,” O’Keefe said.
More information about Journey of Hope can be found at pushamerica.org and phikappa.org.
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