Fraternity cycles across country to raise awareness

The Journey of Hope Trans America team arrive at Arrowhead West in Dodge City. Photo by Gloria Tucker | Dodge City Daily Globe

Twenty Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity cyclists and eight crewmembers are participating in The Ability Experiences Journey of Hope, a 4,200-mile cycling event from Seattle to Washington, D.C., to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities. The team will cycle an average of 75 miles per day ending at the capital on August 8. Every cyclist commits to raising a minimum of $5,500 on behalf of people with disabilities in hopes to enhance their quality of life.

“We’ve raised more than $560,000 so far, just through the fraternity members,” crewmember Evan Camejo said. “We give out funds in the form of grants to different organizations in need at the end of our trip.” The team had a Friendship Visit with Arrowhead West, sharing a meal and activity with the organization that serves both children and adults with developmental disabilities. The team lodged at the Dodge City YMCA.

“Even with a long day of cycling, they are still ready to have fun,” Camejo said. “We hope to change people’s view of people with different abilities and fraternity men in general. We want to give a whole new light to those aspects of the community.” This year, one of the cyclists, Joel Blankenship, is from Wichita and attends Kansas State University. “It’s been an adventure,” Blankenship said. “This is my first time doing this. You’re doing so many different things at once and seeing so many different places. I’ve gone more than 2,000 miles so far. I don’t have a whole lot of experience of working with people with disabilities, so that’s kind of been eye-opening. The ride’s been a life-changing venture.”

The mission of The Ability Experience is to use shared experiences to support people with disabilities and develop the men of Pi Kappa Phi into servant leaders. The Ability Experience organizes Journey of Hope each summer, along with other events, in order to raise funds and promote the abilities of all people.
“This is our 28th year,” Camejo said. “There’s also a north and south route that travels across the country. Our next stop is Wichita and Emporia.”

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