Journey of Hope rides through Park City | ParkRecord.com

Journey of Hope rides through Park City

The Ability Experience’s Journey of Hope, a cross-country cycling trip organized by the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, has traveled through Park City the past few years.

The main purpose of the Journey of Hope ride is to "use shared experiences to support people with disabilities and develop the men of Pi Kappa Phi into servant leaders," according to a press release.

This year, Park City native Troy Haas, a 19-year-old Colorado State University student, joined the group for the 3,600-mile ride.

On Sunday and Monday, Haas got the chance to share his hometown with his fellow fraternity members from all over the country as the Journey of Hope riders experienced the Park City lifestyle for a couple days.

"I’ve been hyping this up pretty much the whole trip and then [Sunday] we got to hang out at the Silly Market and walk up and down Main Street," Haas said. "Then, in the evening, a couple guys were like, ‘Troy, you’ve been talking about how great Park City is and we get it now.’ It’s a different way of life and it’s cool to show them what it’s like and have them respond positively to it."

During a visit to the National Ability Center on Monday evening, Haas said he was proud to have an organization doing such great work located in his community.

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"It’s cool," he said. "I’ve always been aware of the National Ability Center. I’ve had friends work for them before and I was a volunteer ski patroller at Park City [Mountain Resort], so we got to hang out with the NAC friends during the winter. This quality of life we have in Park City with skiing, biking and climbing, it really is for everyone. I’m really proud to say [the National Ability Center] is in my hometown."

But, Haas continued, it’s not just the National Ability Center that cares about people with different abilities. Journey of Hope riders have to raise at least $5,500 to participate in the ride, with that money given to different organizations along the route. Haas said he was impressed, but not surprised, by the generosity shown by his hometown during the fundraising process.

"Park City is all about supporting its own," he said. "I was telling these guys about Live PC Give PC and they were blown away by how supportive it is as a community. Personally, I’ve raised over $8,000, which is not pocket change. The Park City community has been super supportive — that’s where basically all the money has come from."

Haas said he became interested in the Journey of Hope after making several friendship visits with organizations that help children with different abilities in the Fort Collins area while at college.

"We would just spend a couple hours with them — go bowling with them or go out to the park, whatever," he said. "That opened up my eyes to this whole new group of people who I wasn’t really aware of and wasn’t interacting with. It was really fun. It’s cool to see the impact I can make, because I honestly don’t feel like I’m doing that much on these Friendship Visits — I’m just playing. I’m bowling, I’m going to work on some bicycles — which I do for my friends for free — it’s just basically playing as a kid. It wasn’t a hard choice at all."

Haas said he’s not yet sure what he hopes to gain from this trip, which ends Aug. 8 in Washington, D.C., but said he’s going to keep an open mind.

"It’s kind of hard to say what will impact me the most," he said. "I just want to think of what I can do specifically and directly on a small scale of interactions to help people with different ability levels and keep that community in mind. It’s important to be mindful of everyone always, regardless of race, creed, etc."

Growing up in Park City, Haas has plenty of cycling experience. But, he said, that doesn’t mean he was prepared for such a long ride.

"I’ve been a downhill biker for a lot of years, so my cycling experience is good," he said. "But no, I was not in shape at all — living at altitude has been my saving grace. We’re almost through the high mountains, though. Then we’re on to Nebraska, so the hardest terrain is almost behind us."

To learn more about The Ability Experience’s Journey of Hope, visit http://www.abilityexperience.org .

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