About 25 fraternity men will bicycle about 3,600 miles to help disabled people starting this week.
The Journey of Hope participants will kick off the south route at 8 a.m. on Friday, June 17 from Long Beach’s Pine Avenue Pier and cycle to Ontario for the first day of the cross-country trip. There are three routes: south, Transamerica and north. The Transamerica leg started on June 8 and the north on June 12, Ability Experience public relations coordinator and college student Murphy Siegel said.
The Ability Experience (AE) organizes the annual trek — now in its 29th year — and every Pi Kappa Phi cyclist commits to raising at least $5,500 to participate, Siegel said. Individual efforts and sponsorships among the three routes will provide more than $550,000 for disabled people nationwide, he said.
Siegel said AE is the national philanthropy organization for Pi Kappa Phi and money raised goes to its efforts, such as building handicapped ramps in various places.
While most students are focused on getting internships or jobs during summer months, these students decide to give back, he said.
And that’s admirable, he added.
“I think it’s important, especially being a college student,” Siegel said. “When you go to college there are a lot of opportunities to show community support. I think this is the most important thing a college student can do. They can go and legitimately see where their dollars are going… I’m jealous of them every year.”
Siegel said the cyclists average about 75 miles daily, and for the south route, the fifth day has 135 miles. He also said participants didn’t need to be hardcore cyclists.
“That’s one of the cool things,” Siegel said.
On the trek, Siegel said the group of 30 cyclists has a rack point.
“If you’re behind a certain vehicle, you’re asked to rack your bike,” Siegel said.
He said the vehicles don’t travel very quickly — no more than 40 mph — and there’s ample opportunity to complete the ride. He also said cyclists tend to be somewhat competitive. They don’t want to lag behind, he said.
Algernon Dean, spokesman for the south route, said 25 cyclists and eight support members would trek to Washington, D.C. He said last year, they raised almost $7,000 per cyclist and are hoping to surpass that.
California State University, Long Beach, cyclists include Mario Anguiano (south), Cole Miller (Transamerica), Quantin Pham (north) and Brian Schwartz (south).
Anguiano and Schwartz will cycle through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina Virginia and stop at Washington, D.C.
To donate or for more information, visit www.abilityexperience.org.
Emily Thornton can be reached at email@example.com.