Fraternity visits Horizons

Pi Kappa Phi members on bike ride to raise funds, awareness

— Tony Macias knows all about the beer guzzling, party fanatic "frat boy" stereotype.

"That's why I joined Pi Kappa Phi at CSU," Macias said, "To change the stereotype."

Originally from Highlands Ranch, Macias is in the midst of a 63-day cycling ride across the country with nearly two dozen of his Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brothers.

Push America's Journey of Hope is the fraternity's annual bicycle ride to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities. It is the fraternity's national philanthropy.

For more than 10 years, one of the Journey of Hope teams -- two others are simultaneously riding a different route --as stopped in Steamboat Springs to shower at Strawberry Park Elementary School and eat lunch in the parking lot.

"On this trip, pretty much anything goes between two slices of bread," Macias joked after finishing what appeared to be a taco sandwich with ranch dressing.

But the main reason for being in Steamboat is to visit the clients at Horizons Specialized Services.

"Years ago, they called me and asked if we would want to get together and do something with them," said Mike Dwire, vocational specialist with Horizons. "Initially, we sponsored a dinner for them. Due to budget constraints we can't do that anymore, but we still get together. That morphed into a softball game every time they came through.

"This year, it will be different. They will split up and go to three group homes downtown and they will visit with the people who live in the homes. It will give the cyclists a chance to see how they live and what they do on a daily basis. I think everybody is a little sad I didn't plan a softball game, but I wanted this year to be a little different."

Towers Price, one of the Journey of Hope crew leaders, presented Horizons with a $750 check Friday night.

"That's one of the best things about Push America," Price said. "Eighty-six percent of what we raise goes back into serving people with disabilities."

Each cyclist had to raise a minimum of $5,000 to secure his spot on this year's Journey of Hope. Each cyclist in Steamboat on Friday was a first-time participant.

"The way they interact with people with disabilities is amazing," Dwire said. "They certainly can communicate and relate with them and make them feel very special. All of our Horizons guys look forward to seeing them every year."

Most of this year's cyclists had never been to Steamboat, but they didn't have a chance to sightsee.

The group usually wakes up between 5:30 and 5:45 a.m., eats breakfast and begins to ride. Today, they will climb Rabbit Ears Pass on their way to Breckenridge.

The trip began June 12 in San Francisco and ends Aug. 12 in Washington, D.C., giving the young men a unique view of the country and its myriad citizens.

"It's one mile, one pedal at a time," Macias said.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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