A team of bicyclists participating in the Journey of Hope cross-country ride stopped in Vandalia on Tuesday.
Push America’s Journey of Hope, a 4,000-mile bike ride from Seattle to Washington, D.C, that raises money for organizations that help people with disabilities, made a stop at FAYCO Enterprises on Tuesday afternoon and stayed overnight at the Fayette County Family YMCA.
The trip began in Seattle on May 29, and the riders should arrive in Washington on Aug. 5 to conclude the 25th annual Journey of Hope ride.
Thus far, the college-aged riders have logged about 2,800 miles and raised more than $670,000, by riding about 80 miles a day, six days a week.
Sloan Dickey, a senior journalism major at George Washington University, said that stopping at places such as FAYCO is where some of the best memories are made.
“The highlights are really when we get off the bikes and interact with people,” he said.
At FAYCO, employees greeted the riders as they pulled into the parking lot, and during tours of the factory, the workers applauded the riders.
“It’s exciting,” said YMCA Executive Director John Ashdown. “On the tour, the people here were excited and hung posters all over the place.”
Ashdown said the YMCA got hooked up with the Journey of Hope because Tom York of Compass West was a member of Pi Kappa Phi, and when York saw the riders when they passed through town a few years ago, he helped organize a stop with the YMCA.
Now, the riders have stopped in Vandalia two years in a row, with the help of FAYCO and the YMCA.
The group that passed through here is one of three groups on the Journey of Hope, and their journey is being documented by Dickey at sloandickey.com/journeyofhope.
Some of the highlights from the trip include passing through Yellowstone National Park, riding with another charitable group in Denver and going up in the St. Louis Arch.
And while Dickey acknowledged that seeing the country is a benefit to riding on the Journey of Hope, it’s the charity work that matters most.
“It’s something that really stands out in terms of the philanthropy aspect of Pi Kappa Phi, and Journey of Hope is our flagship,” Dickey said. “It was something that caught my interest from the very beginning.
“It wasn’t a matter of if I was going to do it, it was when I was going to do it.”