DES MOINES, Iowa — Changing the world for the better, Pi Kappa Phi fraternity is raising awareness for people living with disabilities through a cross-country journey on bicycles.
Members of the fraternity started their journey from San Francisco, California. They plan to bicycle 63 days and 3,700 miles to Washington, DC.
On Sunday, the fraternity took a break from the road and toured the Easterseals Sunnyside Camp. It’s a camp that supports people living with disabilities and special needs in central Iowa. Through their journey, the fraternity is building relationships among one another and those living with disabilities.
“It’s two components to it,” said Sean Kauder with Pi Kappa Phi. “First of all is helping these guys embark on an incredible adventure that’s going to change their lives. The second part is getting those shared experiences of people with disabilities, building relationships and broadening my perspective on the world.”
While the cyclists push their bodies to the limit, a crew follows the men in vans, providing food and water.
“I got hit with a couple of illnesses. I had food poisoning as well as viral tonsillitis earlier in the trip, so getting over those physical hurdles and also the hurdle of cycling nearly 80 miles a day has really taken a toll on the body. [It’s] made me so mentally strong that I can do almost anything,” said Aidan Connolly, a Pi Kappa Phi member.
Besides overcoming illnesses, the guys also met inspirational people along the way.
“We got bracelets in Park City from an individual named Travis. He had neurofibromatosis,” said Robert Lee, a member of Pi Kappa Phi. “He was dealing [with] these problems for a long time, and he actually made the brave decision to amputate his leg to donate it to neurofibromatosis research. He’s doing good now, but he was just a trooper.”
While this journey is building brotherhood, it is also creating awareness for others who live with disabilities.
“Disabilities don’t mean inability. We would appreciate [it] if you would help us celebrate the abilities of all people,” said Kauder.