TERRE HAUTE —
A group of cyclists stopped Tuesday in Terre Haute as part of its Journey of Hope.
The group of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members traveled down U.S. 40 and arrived at Indiana State University’s Dede Plaza early afternoon and visited Happiness Bag for a friendship visit later that evening.
“The Journey of Hope aims to build the leaders of tomorrow by serving people with disabilities today,” said Scott Hatfield, Project Manager of Push America, Pi Kappa Phi’s national philanthropy organization.
The riders and Push America did just that as they presented an $880 grant to Happiness Bag. The around 200 attendees also enjoyed a dance and karaoke in the gymnasium area at Happiness Bag. The two non-profits have been partnered for at least eight consecutive years, said Jodi Moan, executive director of Happiness Bag.
“The money we received will be used to defray costs for the Special Olympics that some can’t afford,” Moan added. “Our partnership with Push America is tremendous. For college-aged men to take a whole summer to help support the handicapped is great.”
Each rider must raise a minimum of $5,000 through philanthropic events held throughout the year at their university. Raising money can range from competitions and cookouts to letters to family and friends asking for a donation, Hatfield said.
Cyclists began on June 1 as three different teams — with starting points at Seattle, Wash., Los Angeles and San Francisco, Calif. The team that stopped in Terre Haute was the team who started in Seattle. The three teams will meet on Aug. 10 in Washington D.C., as their final destination after cycling a little over 12,000 mi. combined.
“It is physically strenuous, but as we keep going we get used to it,” said Zack Kaplan, from the University of North Carolina. “This is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I am sure the other guys would agree.”
Aside from the physical demands of cycling, Kaplan said it is a great bonding experience.
“I love seeing the guys open up to each other and clients,” he said shortly after arriving at ISU. “This is an awarding experience for everyone.”
Alex Brink, from the University of Wyoming agrees with Kaplan.
“A lot of people say they wish they could do something like this, but never do,” Brink added. “These guys took the initiative to actually do it.”
Today, the cyclists and Push America will depart from Terre Haute and make their way to Bloomington, followed by Indianapolis, and then ride on to Cincinnati, Ohio, as their quest continues to Washington D.C.
Reporter Dustyn Fatheree can be reached at 812-231-4255 and dustyn.fatheree@ tribstar.com.
On schedule: Journey of Hope riders (above) approach the Dede Plaza fountain on the Indiana State University campus early Tuesday afternoon. Journey of Hope rider Kaleb Sellers (left) cools down in the fountain. Journey of Hope is a cross-country bicycle ride that covers 32 states, with riders cycling more than 12,000 miles combined.
Leaders: A trio of riders, Issac Smith, Sam Newblon and Chad Bruking, pedal through West Terre Haute Tuesday afternoon on their way to the Indiana State University campus.