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On a roll for charity

David Mirhadi
Appeal City Editor

On Wednesday, Glenn Shapley muscled his 21-speed Cannondale Cyclocross bicycle up the punishing 7,800-feet summit to the Kirkwood Ski Resort along Highway 88.

It was a physically grueling trip that was rewarded, Shapley noted, when he and 43 members of his cycling team cruised down into Carson City on Thursday, to the shouts and celebratory claps of dozens of school-aged children welcoming them to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Nevada.

Shapley and the riders are members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. A group of 86 members of the fraternity from all over the United States are punishing their bodies this summer in a cross-country trek to raise money for and awareness of people with disabilities.

Riders have each raised at least $5,000 to go toward outreach programs or organizations that help those with disabilities.

Shapley, a student at the University of Nevada, said his desire to join the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity was borne out of the fraternity’s commitment to community service.

“I would not be part of (this fraternity) if it was not a part of (Push America),” he said. “This is a bonding of brothers and serving others for the better good.”

Push America, according to its mission statement, is made up of the members of Pi Kappa Phi. The group aims to “educate and provide a quality hands-on service experience for members of (the fraternity) while enhancing the lives of people with disabilities.”

The group invests in cycling and construction fund-raising projects, with the money going to help programs that aid disabled individuals.

You could consider Thursday’s 50-mile ride from tiny Markleeville, Calif., to Carson City just one leg of a public service Tour de France.

“We’re just riding across America because that’s how much people with disabilities mean to us,” Shapley said.

Shapley and his mates left San Francisco on June 15 and will meet up with two other teams on a ride to Washington, D.C., Aug. 16.

The money raised by the fraternity brothers will be used locally for Washoe ARC, said Steve Golden, an Emory University student from Atlanta who is serving as a public relations coordinator and member of the support staff.

Washoe ARC provides training and social activities for those with disabilities.

The cyclists will be in town today to stage a puppet show at the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada.

On Thursday, the cyclists staged a puppet show for dozens of children at the Boys and Girls Club on Stewart Street that showcased tolerance for those with disabilities.

The cyclists used puppets Melody and Mark, a child with cerebral palsy, and the friendship between the two.

During the show, Melody marveled at Mark’s wheelchair.

“We want people to see the person, and not the disability,” Shapley noted.

“Those guys are funny,” said 9-year-old Alec , a frequent Boys and Girls Club visitor. “It’s a lot of fun to play here.”

Come Saturday, the cyclists will cruise 65 miles to Fallon for their next stop.

The cross-country challenge will test more than muscles, Shapley said.

“This is a big mental push and you learn a lot about yourself. It’s a mental challenge to see if you can push the pedals for 11 1/2 hours each day.”