While most people think fraternity men are worried about parties and alcohol, the men of Pi Kappa Phi are worrying about how they can help change the world.
Partnering with The Ability Experience, an organization who helps raise money and awareness for people with disabilities, nearly 40 Pi Kappa Phi members from around the country have been participating in Journey of Hope to bike nearly 4,000 miles cross country to raise awareness.
The riders stopped in Carson City Friday to visit the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada, Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada, People First at Western Nevada College to interact with the public, teach people about the organization and raise awareness about people with disabilities. The men started their ride last Friday, starting in San Francisco and will end in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 8.
“I thought that it would be fun to bike across the country and be able to help people out,” Michael McAllister, from Drake University said. “I came in a little out of shape, but that was corrected quickly.”
Each day the men can ride anywhere from 75-85 miles or up to 14 hours a day, then try to stop in towns to meet with the locals.
“Everyday is a bike day,” Zack Corbo, public relations members for The Ability Experience, said. “We do programming in the towns to meet local organizations to spread awareness. We try to teach children and adults about accepting and understanding and learning about people with disabilities.”
As a part of their most recent leg, the cyclists came through the Lake Tahoe area Thursday, and biked up 8,000 feet up the incline through the rain, fog and wind. Corbo said watching the riders commit to the cause and push through the difficulties was inspiring. Though it was tough on the riders, the downhill at the end was worth the uphill ride.
“The downhill was amazing, it was the fastest I had ever gone on a bike,” Karl Ochs, from Michigan, said. “I think we were going at least 45 miles per hour going down 8,000 feet. It was fun and seeing Tahoe was so beautiful.”
Though the ride is strenuous, the riders don’t let it affect them too much.
“It is more mental than physical,” Ochs said. “You get to (programming events) and people are so excited to see you and it makes you forget how rough it is, and you get a fresh start and can start again.”
While at the Children’s Museum Friday morning, the fraternity members interacted with the children there and performed a puppet show about puppets with cerebral palsy and blindness.
They were then spending the rest of the afternoon with the Boys and Girls Clubs and meeting with People First at WNC.
“We have one mission, one goal (to raise awareness), so let’s make it work,” Corbo said. “There is a bad image with stereotypes about frats, and we want to redefine that. Everyone has their own story or reason for getting on the roster (to bike), I do it to inspire other brothers to get involved with the organization.”
For Ryan Dooley, joining in Journey of Hope gave him something to strive to succeed in.
“Until now it had been smooth sailing for me,” Dooley said. “I have happy and healthy friends and family and I never really had to push myself and this was the first time I had to push myself to success in something and I think I did that ten-fold.”
For many of the men, their goal was to be able to help those with disabilities and inspire others to follow in their footsteps to raise awareness.
In order to be on the roster for Journey of Hope, each cyclist had to raise at least $5,500 for The Ability Experience, and Corbo said most of the men doubled that goal.
“We are all brothers on an incredible adventure that we may never have the opportunity to do again,” Corbo said.