ASU fraternity brothers bike cross country for people with special needs

A bike ride across 32 different states, spanning nearly 12,000 miles is an accomplishment five Pi Kappa Phi brothers of the Theta Xi Chapter at ASU completed over the summer. 

This endeavor, titled Journey of Hope, seeks to raise awareness for people with special needs.

The cross-country bicycle voyage came about in 1987 when a Pi Kappa Phi alumnus, Bruce Rogers, cycled across the country to shed light on the efforts of the organization. In 1988, The Ability Experience formed a team of 21 Pi Kappa Phi brothers to complete the challenge. 

This summer, more than 70 brothers from universities across the nation participated in the expedition. Supporters raised over $600,000 in donations for the organization in the last three months.

According to the Ability Experience website the purpose of Journey of Hope is "about challenging the norm. It is about serving our communities. It is about finding out more about ourselves than we ever imagined. It is about having a dream. It is about a mission. It is about hope."

The fraternity brothers have the option to begin their ride in Seattle through the Transamerica route; San Francisco through the North route; and Los Angeles, through the South route. All of the routes end at the ultimate finish line: the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C. 

Three of ASU's Pi Kappa Phi brothers, Miguel Lopez, Timothy Earl and Zachary Bryant, rode the South route together. When asked how they prepared for the challenge, Lopez stated that they began training a year in advance. 

"Tim and I would spend our weekends cycling around Scottsdale or cycling down Maricopa just to prepare," Lopez said. 

Lopez said he biked around 60 miles most days before the journey, and the training paid off. Most of his days during Journey of Hope consisted of biking more than 100 miles.

Another brother of Pi Kappa Phi, Benjamin Hook, rode the Transamerica route and said the different routes provided different experiences.

"It's not necessarily the route that differentiates the experience as it is the personal connections we all made and the people who inspired us to ride," Hook said.

Despite the negative attention fraternities have received in recent months through Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon's racist song or Yale's Delta Kappa Epsilon's sexual offensive chant, the men of Pi Kappa Phi at ASU said they hope to combat that stereotype. 

“The Journey specifically shows that there are fraternity men out there willing to give up an entire summer in service of others,” Earl said. 

Earl, who rode the South route, was motivated to do the ride for his father. 

“My father was a very avid cyclist and unfortunately he passed away when I was about 14," he said. "I saw the journey not as just an awesome way to serve those with disabilities, but also as the best possible way to pay respect to my father.” 

The brothers unanimously agreed that the journey changed their lives. 

“This trip reassured me that there are men all across the country that embody Pi Kappa Phi's values the way I had hoped when I joined," Earl said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled the Journey of Hope founder's name. This version has been updated with the correct information. 

Related Links:

Pi Kappa Phi philanthropy gives back to those with disabilities

Fraternities focus on community, safety


Reach the reporter at ambice@asu.edu or follow @alliebice on Twitter.

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