Journey of Hope team to raise funds, bring awareness for those struggling with disabilities

VICTORVILLE — As members of the Journey of Hope South Team slowly made their way to Victorville’s Hook Community Center on Saturday morning, the cheers began to grow as weary cyclists battled rising heat to bring their cause into focus.

With a group of 90 men split up in three teams of 30 men from the Pi Kappa Phi chapters across the country, the Journey of Hope South Team rode into the High Desert for the 29th annual Journey of Hope Bicycle Fundraiser in order to raise awareness and funds for those with disabilities.

“We’ve been doing this for years and it’s a great way to get the community involved for a good cause,” said Algernon Dean, public relations coordinator. “Each year we’ve come close to raising $70,000 dollars and we’re hoping to break that.”

Each year, the cross-country bicycle trekcovers 32 states and more than 12,000 miles. The three teams split the nation with one traveling the north, one the south and the other pedals through the country’s heartland. The origination is solely comprised of members of Pi Kappa Phi and continues to spread a message of acceptance and understanding for people with disabilities.

The south team began their journey in Long Beach on Friday morning, having stopped in Ontario. From there, the team’s second stop was in Victorville as the group will continue to make their way toward Barstow the next day, followed by Nevada, Arizona, Texas and other states until they reach their final destination in Washington D.C. by Aug. 13.

Eric Weiss, 20, of Boston, said he was introduced to the group by the crew chief last year who encouraged him to take part in this year’s journey. Weiss said the journey so far has been challenging, but also rewarding as he is thrilled to be on a team with dedicated and hard working cyclists.

“This is super new to me seeing as I’ve only been cycling for a couple of months, but I like a challenge,” Weiss said. “We have some amazing guys on the team and we work really hard for a good cause.”

The group began their route at N Haven Avenue in Ontario early in the morning and made their way up to the High Desert and ended their route at the Hook Community Center on Joshua Street later that same afternoon.

Dean said all the men who cycled are members of the organization ranging between the ages of 18 to 25. Some of the members come out as far New York and Virginia to participate in the event.

“It’s going to be a long journey, but each day we dedicate each ride to someone on the team they know who may be dealing with a disability, and so when it starts getting tough we remind ourselves of that person to help keep pushing us forward the entire way,” said Bryan O’Leary. 21, of Missouri.

O’Leary said it has been a very good experience for him so far and he is humbled to take part in this experience “We’re excited to have been in Victorville on this new route. Everybody had been practicing really hard all week and we’ve been getting the guys in shape. We’re all here to have a good time and it’s all about having a fun time. It’s been a great day,”

Source: Monica Solano, Daily Press