One man dreamed of riding his bike across the country to raise money for people with disabilities, but little did he know how much of an impact he would have on his son and fellow TCU Pi Kappa Phi members.
Pi Kappa Phi’s philanthropy is The Ability Experience, a nonprofit organization that serves individuals with disabilities in order to enhance their quality of life. The philanthropy has numerous programs, including one called the Journey of Hope.
The Journey of Hope is a cross-country bicycle trek that raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities. Each year, Pi Kappa Phi members across the country raise $5,500 to enter the bike ride.
The ride has two missions: To create awareness and support for people with disabilities and special needs, and to have an impact on college guys giving them the experience of service and leadership, said Bruce Rogers, a Pi Kappa Phi alumnus.
Rogers started the Journey in 1987. He said after he finished law school, he wanted to combine his love for biking with raising funds and awareness for people with disabilities. He went to the CEO of The Ability Experience, Durward Owen, with his idea and they loved it.
Within the year, he found other Pi Kappa Phi members to help plan routes and start the first ride.
Today, the Journey of Hope covers 32 different states, cycling over 12,000 miles combined and begins in one of three locations: San Francisco (North), Los Angeles (South) or Seattle (TransAmerica) in early June. All locations meet in Washington, D.C. on Aug.12.
Since the Journey of Hope began, Roger’s legacy has not only spread across the country to other Pi Kappa Phi chapters, but also to his son, Layton Rogers, a sophomore Pi Kappa Phi member at TCU.
When Layton joined the Pi Kappa Phi chapter on campus, he said he was excited to enter the ride for the first time as a member himself, but he didn’t expect what kind of impact this ride would have on him.
“Originally it was about following my dad’s footsteps, but it involved something greater than that,” he said.
This past summer, Layton said he was proud because he rode 4,330 miles with the team, but he was even prouder when he witnessed the impact their funds and riding made on the lives of people with disabilities through their “friendship visits.”
Friendship visits were planned visits to organizations for disabled people where team members socialized, saw what their funds purchased and gave out grants ranging from $2,000 to almost $5,000 to the organizations.
During a friendship visit in Garden City, Kansas, Layton said that he befriended a nonverbal woman in a wheelchair. She demonstrated a device that the Journey of Hope purchased for her to enable her to walk. When she walked down the hallway using the device, everyone stood and cheered.
“She stopped halfway and gave me the biggest embrace that I’ve ever had in my life,” Layton said. “That interaction is why all those miles and fundraising are worth it. It’s good to give back.”
Sam Hudson, a TCU student in the Master of Accounting program, took the TransAmerica route with Layton.
“I wanted to challenge my physical and mental abilities,” Hudson said. “But the main reason was that I wanted to dedicate myself this summer to something that was bigger than myself to better others.”
He added that some days were brutal with a heat index of 115 degrees and a 100 mile ride with 8,000 feet of climbing, but he powered through the days by remembering who he was doing this for.
“I thought about someone I met at a friendship visit,” Hudson said. “They would give anything to be out here doing what I’m doing and that’s what really made it worth it to me in the end.”
Bryce Maloy, a junior entrepreneurial management major, took the North route. He learned about the Journey of Hope through Layton and by volunteering at KinderFrogs, a school which predominantly serves young children with disabilities.
“At first, I was a little hesitant; the physical aspect of riding a bike across the country was daunting, ” Maloy said.
Maloy said there was a lot of time to self-reflect as he rode for hours through three main mountain ranges of the United States: The Sierra Nevada, Rockies and Appalachians. There were days when he had to push through the pain.
“It teaches a lot about yourself,” he said. “I’ve never done anything in my life to push my physical limits. It was hands down the best experience I’ve ever been a part of.”