On June 2, juniors Shad Albarazanji and Trey Bright joined their fraternity’s members from across the country on the 4,000-mile Journey of Hope .
“While we are excited to help people along our journey, we’re most excited about what they’re going to do for us — the friendships we’ll make,” Bright said. “We will meet a lot of people, and they’re going to really touch us.”
Push America is the fraternity’s national philanthropy. It raises money through construction projects and cycling events to provide accommodations for people with disabilities.
Each summer, more than 100 Pi Kappa Phi members from across the country cycle in Journey of Hope, Push America’s biggest event. Each participant pledges to raise $5,500 on his own, contributing to the nearly $500,000 raised through the event. The teams rely on logistical planning to get them across the country, receiving room and board from schools, churches and households.
Although they said they were inspired by the organization’s message, Albarazanji and Bright said they never thought they would make the trip.
“I thought I’d go to summer school or find an internship,” Albarazanji said.
After speaking with members who had participated, Bright said he felt moved to sign up for the trip, and he convinced his roommate Albarazanji to join him. The two will cycle along the program’s South route, biking up to 135 miles a day.
“There’s a bit of a domino effect in the fraternity,” Albarazanji said. “We have a history of brothers doing it in the past. Usually at least two people from our chapter will make the trip each year.”
Those who choose to go on the trip return with a stronger sense of community.
“You get to meet guys from across the country,” said Chris Dewberry , the fraternity’s chapter president. “The alumni that have gone on the trip are really supportive of the team, and the whole fraternity is really proud of the guys that commit themselves to this.”
The teams volunteer at YMCAs, assisted living centers and local groups for people with disabilities.
Albarazanji said the trip can refocus one’s life and put it into perspective.
“The biking will be hard, but I want to make sure that I’m not acting tired when we show up to these places,” he said.
Bright said he is dedicating the trip to his cousin, who suffers from a disability.
“We have a challenge each morning riding 70 to 80 miles, but these people face challenges far greater, and they have a smile on their face while they do it,” Bright said. “It speaks to them and their strength, but it’s also something I hope we can take away from the trip.”
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