Tuesday, July 01, 2008

PushAmerica Hits $10 Million

Journey of Hope
Fraternity rides to raise money for disabled
By David Bell

Sunday’s temperatures may not have approached the record 128 degrees set June 29, 1994, but don’t try saying it was cooler to the members of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity.

Thirty members of the fraternity cycled in to Lake Havasu City Sunday, part of the Journey of Hope, a cross-country bicycle ride the fraternity stages each year to raise money for the disabled.

“It’s been an amazing time. Being a cyclist has been one of the most challenging things in my life, both physically and mentally. Without my teammates, I doubt I would have made it,” said Charles Knox of Ft. Collins, Colo.

The cyclists gather in San Francisco and Seattle to begin the trek to Washington D.C. The South Route and Transamerica teams start together in San Francisco before splitting in Nevada. The North Route Team will link with the Transamerica team once in Colorado then split off again until all three converge on the nation’s capital.

The South Route team averages about 75 miles per day over the first two weeks of the trip before making their way to Lake Havasu City, a stop the collegians request each year.

Philip Benevides of Hudson, Mass. Just graduated and was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Air Force. He said the military agreed to defer his reporting for duty to take part.

“One of my chapter brothers said I should do it. It’s a life changing experience,” Benevides said.

The riders get two days in Lake Havasu City and dozens of volunteers have offered a number of activities for the young men, starting with Sunday’s reception at the London Bridge Resort. From there the London Bridge Yacht Club took them out for an afternoon on the lake and the community dinner and dance took place at the Community Center last night.

Today the riders will visit New Horizons then it’s off to a pool party and barbeque.
“We start preparing for this event in February, get the plans ready and then start going full force in March,” said Brigid Stevens, event coordinator for Lake Havasu City. “It takes so many people to get this ready for the boys. At least three dozen volunteers including the Yacht Club, the police and fire.”

Including Vice Mayor Dennis Schilling, who was on hand to present a proclamation for the city declaring Sunday journey of Hope Day.

“This is my third year being a part of the Journey of Hope. I really look forward to this,” Schilling said.

Andrew Matznick of Greensboro, N.C. is the only repeat participant this year. He rode the south route in 2007 and is on the support team this year.“I had an amazing experience last year and I want to help the cyclists experience that,” Matznick said. “I enjoyed it too much last year and wouldn’t want to go on another route.”

Journey of Hope has been cycling since 1988 and making stops in Lake Havasu City starting in 2001. The fraternity has raised over $10 million since starting the fundraising effort.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Disability Status: 2000 report, 19.1 percent of all Americans age 5-years-old and older suffer from some type of disability.Online at http://www.pushamerica.org.