A group of college students wheeled easily through the dappled light of the Capitol grounds Thursday morning. The Capitol was a stopping point for Journey of Hope, an effort dedicated to raising public awareness and money for people with disabilities.
The cyclists lined up on the steps as cameras snapped and Brian Catlett, aide to Gov. Kenny Guinn, read a proclamation honoring them.
All members of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, the 70-member group started at San Francisco's Golden Gate June 1. The 4,000-mile journey will end in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 4.
Hundreds of national and local sponsors support the annual event. This year's effort expected to raise about $500,000.
Cyclist Eric Fare seemed unruffled after today's ride, a 65-mile trek from Kirkwood Ski Resort on Highway 88. He said the wind was at their backs Wednesday when they climbed the pass, making the trip relatively easy.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's a chance to give something to others and I can't imagine not doing it," he said with the hint of a Southern accent. "So much has already happened and I know there's more to come."
The bicyclists divide into two groups, one heading north and the other heading south after they complete their next leg, which ends in Fallon. Louisiana-born Fare said he's looking forward to taking the southern route. He said it'll be hot, but there aren't as many hills.
"I started this ride with five friends from my fraternity," he said. "But the whole group is getting pretty tight. It'll be tough to split up."
When asked if he had trained for the ride, John McGarry, a senior at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, gave an emphatic nod.
"I trained for awhile, but not on anything like the hills around here," he said. " This is an important effort and we're having a good time. It's hard, it's fun, and we get to see a lot of country."
The group presented an educational puppet show, "Kids on the Block," at Seeliger, Fritsch, Mark Twain and Bordewich-Bray Elementary Schools Thursday afternoon and another performance is scheduled at the Children's Museum at 1 p.m. today, according to Museum Executive Director Denise Sins.
"I think this is absolutely fantastic," she said. "It's so rewarding to see the length these kids will go to help others."
The cyclists are from colleges and universities across the country. The team includes 58 cyclists and 14 support members, four vans and eight wagons. They stay in churches and recreation centers along the way and meals are often furnished by local groups. At times they stay in a motel, according to a member of the support team.
Carson organizations supporting the team's visit include the Boys & Girls Club, Carson City Rotary Club, Carson Middle School, the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada, UCP of Northern Nevada and the Carson Nugget.
Pi Kappa Phi is reportedly the only national men's fraternity to establish and maintain its own service project. Through this program and more, members have raised more than $7 million since its founding in 1977. Both Push America and Pi Kappa Phi are headquartered in Charlotte, N. C.