Fraternity members cycle from Long Beach to D.C. to raise awareness for people with disabilities

The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity begins their cycling journey to Washington D.C. Friday morning at the Pine Street Pier. Their journey aims to raise awareness for disabled people. They will cycle an average of 75 miles per day. Photo by Brittany Murray / Daily Breeze

“This kind of philanthropy hits close to home,” McKee said. “I have family members who have special needs, and from day one on joining this fraternity, I knew I wanted the experience.”

A group of 27 fraternity brothers and nine trained crew members from various chapters kicked off their annual journey to the nation’s capital Friday morning from the Pine Avenue Pier. The fraternity’s nonprofit The Ability Experience started its Journey of Hope to raise awareness and support for disabled people by fundraising months before their cycling journey. Since the campaign’s inception 20 years ago, the organization has raised over $15 million.

Family and friends congregated Friday to see the group off with a final group prayer and parting words from Ryan Foerstel, director of team services for The Ability Experience.

“Look at your friends, they won’t be the same when they’re on the Capitol lawn,” Foerstel said. “They’re going to be the men they have always wanted to be.”

Fraternity member Christian Aguinaldo, a Carson resident who attends U.C. Berkeley, said it’s been a physical and mental challenge to prepare for the two-month journey. While he’s participated in other sports, he’s learned cycling requires him to exercise different muscles than he’s used to.

Christian’s father, Mike Aguinaldo, said although he is nervous for his son, he wasn’t surprised to hear Christian’s excitement to participate.

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