NSU Pi Kapps ride across the country for people with disabilities

NSU Pi Kapps ride across the country for people with disabilitiesTwo members of the Beta Omicron chapter of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity are participating in a cross-country bicycle ride to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities. Northwestern State University students Adam Upshaw of Coushatta, Louisiana and Collin McKnight of Austin, Texas will spend six weeks of their summer participating in the Journey of Hope, a cycling trek from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. The ride is a project of Push America, a philanthropy founded by Pi Kappa Phi.

Teams stop in cities along the routes for friendship visits in which members are involved in service projects or events for people with disabilities.

Team members, who are all members of Pi Kappa Phi, are each required to raise over $5 thousand for Push America. The ride annually raises over a half-million dollars for people with disabilities.

McKnight’s girlfriend, Alicia Hector, contributed this journey entry to update their progress. The following details their first few days in San Francisco.

Well the guys are now on day 3 in San Francisco! They are loving San Francisco. The weather is strange. One moment, it will be hot, and then the next it is cool, but overall it is a very beautiful city. When they arrived, they went to get their bikes put back together. Before they left Austin, they went to a bike shop to have their bikes [professionally] taken apart for easier transport. It took about 2 hours to put them back together. For the next few days, the guys are staying at the University of San Francisco. The Journey of Hope has 3 different teams: the North, South, and Transamerica routes. Collin and Adam are on the South team. The Transamerica group started about a week ago in Seattle, Washington. The North and South team will be riding together until Carson City, Nevada and then they split routes until finally meeting up again in Washington D.C. in August. Adam and Collin are staying in separate rooms, but it is a great opportunity to get to know other fraternity brothers from other chapters.

These first few days are dedicated to preparing for the long trip ahead. They are taking safety courses, nutrition classes, and even skills training classes. In Skills Training they learn about changing tires, paceline riding, and how to remain stable on the bike. In between the meetings/classes that they have, they have had a lot of free time to get to know each other. They figured if they were going to be with these guys all summer, then they should definitely get to know who everyone is!

Today, the team members went to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a very popular tourist attraction. There is access to a ferry which goes to Alcatraz, all kinds of shops, entertainment and restaurants. Lunch was a sponsored meal by the Pi Alphas (Pi Kappa Phi men who have previously completed a national Push America event) at In & Out Burger which one of the more famous restaurants there. Collin said it is a tiny restaurant with maybe 4 things on the menu. Today they walked in at lunchtime, all 70 of them, and all the attention in the place went to them. He said people would walk in and see all the guys there, and walk right back out. Then one of the ladies who worked there kept getting frustrated because she was trying to get some of the guys to go to her line to order, but it was all on one ticket and she couldn’t understand that!

Tonight they had their first friendship visit. A friendship visit is where the whole team goes to a local foundation for people with disabilities and they interact with them and usually they have a meal, and then some sort of activity. Sometimes there are even media/press events at these friendship visits. Tonight their first one was at the Janet Pomery Center, which is a day facility for all ages. They played a basketball game, and the Journey of Hope guys lost! Despite losing, they had an awesome time, met some amazing people, and they are looking forward to all of the others.

Tomorrow morning, they are going on a 30-mile practice ride just outside San Francisco to make sure everything is running smoothly. They are starting at 6:30 AM. The guys said that they will just have to get used to that, because that is around the time that they will be leaving every morning!

Tomorrow night they have a kick-off dinner with many different speakers, including alumni, and members of the Pi Alpha Society (Push America Alumni who are Pi Kapps). And then Sunday morning, after the kick-off speeches, the North and South Journey of Hope teams will be riding across the Golden Gate Bridge at 7:30 am to officially begin the Journey of Hope 2008!

Thank you all for continuing to keep these men in your prayers!