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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Frat brother experiences ‘Journey of Hope’

    John Snowberger, Pi Kappa Phi president and philosophy senior, is planning to ride his bike across the country to raise awareness for people with disabilities.
    John Snowberger, Pi Kappa Phi president and philosophy senior, is planning to ride his bike across the country to raise awareness for people with disabilities.

    Cycling 4,400 miles at an average 75 miles per day, traveling through 32 states and promoting awareness for people with disabilities has been one UA student’s dream summer trek since his freshman year.

    John Snowberger, a philosophy senior, will participate in Journey of Hope, a cross-country cycling event starting June 7 in Seattle and continuing through the summer, ending in Washington, D.C. on August 11.

    Along the way to Washington, D.C., the cyclists will stop in different cities to raise awareness for people with disabilities. Eighty-five Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members from all over the country, divided into two teams of 30 and one team of 25, will participate in the cross-country bicycle event.

    “”I saw this as a chance to do something and help people.””
    – John Snowberger, philosophy senior

    The Journey of Hope is an event sponsored by Push America, a non-profit organization designed to educate people and raise money for building projects for those with disabilities.

    Pi Kappa Phi is directly associated with Push America and created the event in 1977.

    “”I saw a picture on the wall with a Pi Kappa Phi member standing at the top of the steps of the Capitol building with his bike over his head, and after that I wanted to be involved,”” Snowberger said.

    Though Snowberger’s desire to help people with disabilities was a motivating factor, he also had other reasons that further pushed him to participate.

    “”For me personally, I have an aunt and a young cousin who have disabilities and my mother has been diagnosed with Usher’s syndrome, so I saw this as a chance to do something and to help people,”” Snowberger said.

    Snowberger is not the only Pi Kappa Phi member to participate.

    Accompanying him is his friend, Karl Heideman, a photography senior, who will participate as a crew member and will follow the cyclists, providing them with food, water and other necessities.

    “”Ever since we heard about it we’ve been hearing stories from guys and when I heard John was going to do it, it became an excuse to do something awesome with him,”” Heideman said.

    The cyclists are required to raise a minimum of $5,000 in pledges and crew members must raise $2,500, but John and Karl saw they could do more and are raising $7,500 and $3,500, respectively.

    “”It’s awesome, I have always been interested in helping others and raising awareness of peoples’ disabilities, and to teach them to focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities,”” Heideman said.

    Snowberger is not only cycling for his family but also for a fellow fraternity brother.

    Seth O’Brien, a member of Pi Kappa Phi and a recent UA graduate, was diagnosed with cancer in August 2006 and had to have his lower left leg amputated in September.

    Snowberger plans on having O’Brien’s pin number on his jersey for the event.

    “”I am jealous that they are going.”” O’Brien said.

    “”I have always wanted to do it but I had to work during school. I was also caught by surprise when they were going to put my number on his jersey. I’m proud and honored.””

    Snowberger and Hurley, however, feel it is necessary for them and for O’Brien.

    “”Seth has always been nice to me, he is one of those people with integrity and he always kept telling me what I wanted to do in life. He influenced me and I know John is giving back to him,”” Hurley said.

    Snowberger and Heideman are the only two representatives of the Pi Kappa Phi chapter from the UA and are the first members to participate in about four or five years, Heideman said.

    “”I am proud of them,”” said Greg Foster, Pi Kappa Phi chapter adviser. “”They are doing a fantastic thing, and since John is the president it also means a lot to the chapter,””

    The first Pi Kappa Phi member to participate in the Journey of Hope, in 1996, was Ryan Hurley, who is now an attorney at a firm in Phoenix.

    “”To participate was one of the most amazing things of my life. It was great to see the country on my bike and to get involved with different charities and interact with people who have disabilities,”” Hurley said.

    Much like Snowberger, Hurley participated for personal reasons.

    “”I really wanted to do something different, something extraordinary. I wanted to challenge myself,”” Hurley said.

    Even with his determination, Hurley was tested physically and mentally.

    “”Mentally, the hardest part is doing it everyday. After the 11th day of riding in the rain, it becomes hard to get up at 5 a.m.,”” Hurley said.

    “”Physically, the hardest part was a 9,000 vertical foot climb from Jackson to Kirkwood in California.””

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