As a recent college graduate, Joe Sciandra, whose family is originally from Rochester, N.Y., wanted to give back to others not as fortunate as he.
So did scores of other young men who have a strong desire and deep commitment to help and grow awareness for those individuals with disabilities. Now a new group of about 90 fraternity men from Pi Kappa Phi representing the 2016 edition of Journey of Hope is rolling across the United States.
More than 20 bicyclists on the Hope North team rode into Fallon early Saturday afternoon after completing a 65-mile trip from Carson City. They left Fallon early Sunday morning, following U.S. Highway 50 with various stops along the way. The group bedded down in Austin Sunday before cycling through several mountain ranges to Eureka and then to Ely.
The program divides itself into three teams of riders, one that crosses the northern tier of the U.S., and the other that follows a southern route. The third team that left from Seattle covers a Trans-America route. The teams will meet in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 13.
The Hope North team began its quest almost 10 days ago in San Francisco and averages about 75 miles each day. The team also experienced the ruggedness of the Sierra Nevada before arriving in Carson City on Friday.
The Journey of Hope is a program of The Ability Experience, the national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, which raises funds and awareness for people with mental and physical disabilities. The program raises funds and awareness on behalf of people with disabilities in hopes to enhance the quality of their lives. According to Michael Dailey, who is traveling with the Hope North Team, each rider raises at least $5,500 on behalf of people with disabilities. Combined with their individual efforts, with corporate sponsorships and the Journey of Hope, the 2016 teams will raise more than a half million dollars for people with disabilities.
That’s why Sciandra wanted to be part of this year’s ride since his first year in the fraternity of the Rochester Institute of Technology.
“I went to a revival and saw of group of cyclists from the chapter and the fraternity,” Sciandra said, adding he is living his dream that developed four years ago. “It feels good to be interacting with people who have disabilities.”
More so, Sciandra said the friendship he has developed with the other riders has been an “awesome” part of the trip.
Sciandra, who has never visited Nevada until now, said the scenery and people have inspired him.
Fellow rider Jay O’Neill, who has one year left at Ohio State University, said he likes the challenge and also the opportunity to help others.
At Saturday’s dinner hosted by the Northern Nevada Human Services Association — formerly known as Humboldt Shredders — O’Neill said the experience is gratifying from a personal point of view.
“The dinner had so much interaction,” he said. “We sang karaoke, they had a raffle to help raise money for the Journey of Hope.”
Both riders and their teammates are learning lessons about themselves and others as well as experiencing a different part of the county.
For both Sciandra and O’Neill, they looked forward to seeing the uniqueness of rural Nevada before riding into Utah near the end of the week.