Group pedals with a purpose

By Tony Parra

A bicycle journey across America made its annual stop in Portales on Monday on its way to Charleston, S.C.
The bicycling event is called the Journey of Hope and bicycle riders dressed in their blue, red and white uniforms made time to pose for a group photo outside the Roosevelt County Courthouse on Monday. Also Mayor Orlando Ortega made a proclamation.
Members said they are showing their appreciation for donations made to the Journey of Hope fund-raising drive.
“Our goal is to develop friendships during these visits,” Bryan Schutte, bicyclist from Iowa State University, said. “We are raising awareness for people with disabilities. We are trying to get people’s attention. It’s a great feeling. We are able to make their day.”
The Pi Kappa Fraternity organizes the event in an effort to provide service and education to promote a greater understanding of persons with disabilities, according to members. The Journey of Hope bicycle trek began in San Francisco on June 13. The bicyclists rode 60 miles east to Napa, Calif. for the first leg of the trip.
“Every now and then there are accidents, but we haven’t had any major ones,” Doug Barker, rider from the University of Florida, said. “We are able to get food and plenty of fluids at each stop. We are able to get re-energized.”
Schutte said safety is their number one priority. He said they ride an average of 75 miles a day. The trek is divided into two teams with one team cruising through the south — including Phoenix, Albuquerque, Dallas and Atlanta — and the second team is going through the north — Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago and Washington D.C.
The two bike teams meet in Summerville, S.C. before concluding the journey in Charleston, S.C. on Aug. 15. Both teams will have made 32 stops before arriving to their final destination.
Pi Kappa Fraternity bicyclists rode from Roswell, 95 miles northeast to Portales on Monday. The next leg of the trip for members is today to Muleshoe, Texas.
Members also conducted a puppet show for an audience at the Southside Church of Christ in the evening and they stayed the night at the dormitories at Eastern New Mexico University. Between the 70 men they were able to raise $500,000 for the event, according to Pi Kappa Fraternity members.
“We do three skits to teach children about people with disabilities,” Schutte said about the puppet show. “We emphasize on their abilities and not on their handicaps.”
Joann Martinez-Terry said last year the bicyclists went to Calvary Baptist Church. She said members contacted city of Portales officials about adding a stop in their journey in Portales. She said this is the third year they have stopped in Portales.
“They are some of the most polite kids I have ever met,” Martinez-Terry said. “I admire them. The mayor was very happy about making the proclamation. Veda’s (Urioste) worked hard to promote it and provide oranges and water for them.”
Urioste, an administrative assistant at City Hall, said employees from the Eastern New Mexico Rehabilitative Services for Handicapped people of Clovis were able to bring people with disabilities. The people with disabilities interacted with some of the bicyclists under a patio outside of the Roosevelt County Courthouse. The cyclists also received peanuts as a treat.
The Journey of Hope event is made up of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity members from 33 different universities. The event began in 1977 and in over 25 years, Pi Kappa Phi undergraduate members have been able to raise more than eight million dollars.
Each cyclist was required to raise $5,000 for people with disabilities before the start of the trek across the country.