VANDALIA – Push America’s Journey of Hope cycling tour made its annual stop at FAYCO Enterprises in Vandalia on Monday afternoon, taking pictures with clients and learning about their daily activities.
Members of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity chapters throughout the country join forces on the west coast each summer and embark on a 4,000-mile cross-country cycling trip that ends in Washington, D.C., along the way raising money and awareness for those with disabilities.
Through a grant from money raised by Push America, FAYCO has received two laptop computers that allow its clients opportunities to learn, improve their typing skills and correspond with family and friends through e-mail.
Sam Johnson, who is going into his junior year at Virginia Tech as a finance major, could be found deep in conversation with several clients at FAYCO, and said he has met countless people with “cool things to say,” just by slowing down his life and having a conversation.
“When I got into this, I was way more interested in the cycling aspect of this than what we are doing right now,” he said. “But coming in to see all of these nice people is a really great experience, and you don’t realize that the people at these friendship visits are the reason why we do what we do until you get to meet them.”
Johnson figures he logged about 1,200 miles of running and cycling training since last August in preparation for the ride, which began in Seattle on May 24 and ends at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 2.
Ryan Culp, a crew member who is entering his senior year at Mississippi State University as a marketing major, said that knowing the Journey of Hope participants impact communities is what makes the trip special.
“A lot of times, you tell people that you are doing this cross-country cycling trip to raise awareness and money for people with disabilities, and the thing that they hear is that you are cycling,” Culp said. “But at the end of the day, what is so impactful for us is that we get to come spend time with these people.
“This is really the time when you can serve people, and do something bigger than yourself.”
Team members spent the evening interacting with FAYCO clients at the Family YMCA of Fayette County, and spent the night there before departing early Tuesday morning.
Of the 72 cyclists in the Journey of Hope, Ryan Kavanaugh of Glen Ellyn is the only rider from Illinois. He is part of the South route, which began in Los Angeles.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Push America’s website indicated that the 2014 Journey of Hope has already raised $537,593.81 toward its goal of $650,000. For more information on becoming a donor, visit http://pushamerica.org/pushcontent.aspx?id=343, or click on any participant at this link: http://ipush.convio.net/site/TR/Events/General?pg=entry&fr_id=1310.