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Cycling across country to change lives

Team of 35 hopes to raise awareness for people with disabilities

The+Journey+of+Hope+TransAmerica+team+started+its+cross+country+journey+in+Seattle.
The Journey of Hope TransAmerica team started its cross country journey in Seattle.

The Journey of Hope TransAmerica team started its cross country journey in Seattle.

COURTESY OF CHRIS TOSTO

COURTESY OF CHRIS TOSTO

The Journey of Hope TransAmerica team started its cross country journey in Seattle.

EVELYN BOND, Evergreen reporter

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Once a year, members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity gather to put on a remarkable charity event.

Pledging to raise money for people with disabilities, the young men from 32 different states cycle across the country as a part of the Journey of Hope TransAmerica team.

Averaging over 75 miles a day, the journey is daunting. Cyclists gather at the end of each day during the trip for dinner with locals, calling them “friendship visits.” Cyclist Skylar Minard said the friendship visits help you “forget about all the pain you were in.”

The team of 35 stopped in Pullman on Sunday for a visit. They traveled from Walla Walla, a distance of over 100 miles, to reach the Palouse and completed the long journey in a single day.

Cyclist Hasten Mckissick explained the schedule of their long days.

“100 mile days we wake up at 5 a.m., with an 11 o’clock lights out,” he said.

Despite the full day of biking and the gray drizzling weather, spirits were high.

The bikers stopped in the Pullman High School parking lot and eagerly approached a pavilion of locals waiting as the smell of barbecue drifted through the air.

Alex Spencer, the project manager of the group, was engaged, making sure everyone was accounted for and intently watched introductions between community members and cyclists.

Spencer was a cyclist on the team last year and said he felt like taking on a leadership role this time around and was thrilled when he received an invitation to apply for the position.

While the cyclists bike from one location to the next, Spencer drives a van filled with their belongings, which can be a large responsibility.

He said the job can be trying at times.

“It’s pretty difficult,” he said. “It’s just pretty stressful, a lot on my plate.”

Spencer said being project manager is all about leadership.

“I did the same trip as the cyclists last year,” he said. “So maybe one of them will do what I’m doing this year.”

The team seemed in good spirits, knowing they all were working so hard toward something bigger than them. Mckissick said, its “unique opportunity to do something for one summer that [is] not about me.”

Minard said not only does Journey of Hope change the lives of those who are helped, but it also changes the lives of those who participate.

“It’s not about the pain and suffering you go through while you’re biking,” he said, “but actually giving back and seeing what other people and the challenges they have to go through on a daily basis.”

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Cycling across country to change lives