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Fraternity cyclists make Park City stop

Jason Culotta of the Journey of Hope cycling group looks at an adaptive bicycle on Monday afternoon during a trip to the National Ability Center.
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Every summer, members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity from colleges across the country embark on cross-country bike rides.

The ride, called the Journey of Hope, aims to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities and those individuals and groups that work to support them.

On Monday afternoon, the Journey of Hope riders made their annual stop in Park City, where they visited the National Ability Center to learn about what the NAC does and help with various projects around the site.

For many of the cyclists, it was their first time seeing Park City.

"Park City is awesome," James O’Neill, a 21-year-old student from Ohio State University, said. "I kind of grew up skiing. I came out west six years ago, but my family usually sticks to the Breckenridge/Vail area, so being in Salt Lake and Park City for the first time has been cool. It’s good to see mountains again."

For others, like 19-year-old Michael Dailey of Northwestern State University in Louisiana, riding through the western U.S. has been a drastically new experience.

"It’s my first time seeing mountains or ski slopes," Dailey said. "It’s really pretty here."

Both Dailey and O’Neill got involved with the Journey of Hope to expand their horizons and support groups of people they knew little about.

"What better way to spend a summer than travelling across the country for a good cause?" Dailey said. "Before this, I really hadn’t worked with people with disabilities very often, so I didn’t really understand anything about them. This trip has been super eye-opening and I have a new understanding and a new view on it."

O’Neill said he’d worked with disabled children at a YMCA camp near his home in Ohio, so he was immediately drawn to his fraternity’s Journey of Hope cause.

"Prior to school and in my first summer of college, I was a camp counselor for four years," he said. "It was a youth camp where they’d stay away for one week. I’d work with kids ages 10-12. Any kind of kid could come to the camp and some of those kids had disabilities and others didn’t. Learning as a staff member how to help them interact with each other and seeing how, after a week, they’d grow together was really rewarding for me. When I went to school and I found Pi Kappa Phi and I found that this was their cause and their philanthropy, that was really great."

During their time at the NAC, the riders helped with maintenance work on some of the NAC’s fleet of bicycles and adaptive bicycles, while others helped with various other projects. Monday was the group’s rest day before they hit the road again Tuesday.

Though the riders will eventually descend from the mountains and make their way across Nebraska and Iowa before ending their ride in Washington D.C., Dailey said the mountainous routes aren’t done just yet.

"We should hit Colorado in a couple days," he said. "We’ll end up in Denver a couple days after that."

For more information on Pi Kappa Phi’s Journey of Hope, visit http://www.abilityexperience.org/journeyofhope.aspx .


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