Journey of Hope rides through Cedar Rapids

College-aged riders raising money, awareness for those with disabilities

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Sweating but upbeat, a group of 26 college-aged cyclists rolled into downtown Cedar Rapids on Monday afternoon to spend an evening at the Arc of East Central Iowa.

Journey of Hope -- a cross-country bicycle ride from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. -- is comprised entirely of members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. To ride, members must apply and raise money, all of which goes towards helping people with disabilities. The bike ride is meant to raise awareness for people with disabilities.

Now in its 26th year, the ride has been split up into three different routes and raises about $500,000 annually. The Journey of Hope is an event put on by the fraternity's nonprofit organization, Push America.

At each town the cyclists stop, the group of young men spend an evening with a local agency that helps the disabled in the form of bowling, dancing, or serving dinner to a local group as part of a friendship visit.

David Iles, a first-time Pi Kappa Phi rider who attends the University of Iowa, said the trip has helped him grow.

"It's definitely been the summer of a lifetime," said Iles, of Des Moines. "The biking really gets pushed aside on a trip like this, and it really helps you when you're at the different organizations to see the abilities of the people with disabilities."

Iles said he enjoys the friendship visits because the cyclists are able to meet many of the people they are helping.

"As we go across the nation, we see directly where the money we raised goes," Iles said. 

The cyclists average about 75 miles per day. Tomorrow, the group is headed to Iowa City to meet with the Arc of Southeast Iowa. They expect to arrive in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 9.

Click here for more on Journey of Hope and on this year's ride.

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