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Charity bicycle tour makes pit stop at ASU

 by Allison Denny
 published on Monday, July 7, 2008

<b>A LONG JOURNEY:</b> Sam Neff, 20, opens up a care package that was waiting for him upon his arrival to the ASU campus.  The Michigan State University students’ package included snacks as well as a cell phone to keep in touch with friends and family.  /issues/news/705173
Kaitlin Ochenrider / THE STATE PRESS
A LONG JOURNEY: Sam Neff, 20, opens up a care package that was waiting for him upon his arrival to the ASU campus. The Michigan State University students’ package included snacks as well as a cell phone to keep in touch with friends and family.
 

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In 1987, Pi Kappa Phi alum Bruce Rogers rode his bike across the United States to raise awareness for the fraternity's philanthropy organization, Push America.

The next year his fraternity brothers joined him on the trek.

Now, 21 years later, the brothers of Pi Kappa Phi are still at it, riding across the country in three groups, covering 12,000 miles and raising money for people with disabilities in Journey for Hope.

This year's south route team rode through Tempe on July 3 and stopped at ASU to eat lunch with their chapter brothers at the Student Services Building.

Communications senior Brian McDonald is a Pi Kappa Phi fraternity member at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. He joined the team as a public relations coordinator.

McDonald said Journey of Hope started June 15 and will all end in Washington D.C. on August 16, with each team traveling about 4,000 miles in 63 days.

McDonald said Journey of Hope raised more than $500,000 this year, much of that coming from the required $5,000 donations from students who wish to join the team.

Most come from other fraternity brothers, family and friends, he said, though some applicants get corporate sponsorship, he said.

The money goes to aid those with disabilities, whether learning or physical, McDonald said.

"It's been the premier fundraiser for our fraternity's philanthropy," McDonald said. "I don't know of too many other fraternities … who can raise half a million dollars through one event."

Those selected to join are put on one of three teams. There are 23 cyclists on the south route, 21 on the north route and 22 on the trans-America route.

The north and south routes meet in San Francisco and travel together through Nevada, then part ways, with the north route heading to Utah, Colorado, Nebraska Iowa.

The south team goes from Nevada to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington D.C.

The trans-America team leaves from Seattle and heads south to Montana, then through Wyoming and across the northern U.S., McDonald said.

Along with the 23 south route cyclists, there are seven crewmembers, who work on day-to-day tasks like finding food and places to stay so the cyclists can concentrate on riding, he said.

On most days the cyclists ride about 75 miles, though they rode 110 miles through Arizona, which took 10 or 11 hours, McDonald said.

McDonald rode with the cyclists from Lake Havasu City to Parker in 118-degree weather.

"It was probably 30 of the longest miles I've ever seen," he said.

Ryan Peters graduated from ASU with a degree in justice studies in May, and as a founding member of the University's chapter of Pi Kappa Phi, Peters was part of the Journey of Hope last year.

"I didn't get to ride into ASU last year, so I figured, why not do it today?" he said.

Peters said riding on the Journey of Hope was one of his best college memories.

"You sweat, you smell, but the lives you change on the road are second to none," he said.

Accounting and finance junior Drayton Perkins attends Mercer University in Georgia and said he joined Pi Kappa Phi after an older friend from high school joined the fraternity when he got to Mercer.

"Around campus we're known as the southern gentlemen," Perkins said. "It's nice to be seen like that."

Last year seven of Perkins's chapter brothers rode in Journey of Hope and suggested he apply.

"They all convinced me that it's a life-changing experience," he said.

In Lake Havasu City, Perkins said they gave away two $750 grants.

"It's amazing to see people just light up when you give them the money," he said.

Perkins said he couldn't imagine doing anything else this summer.

"I'm giving up a summer," he said, "but I'm getting so much more of a reward."

Reach the reporter at: allison.denny@asu.edu.



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