As they arrived in Grand Island, members of Pi Kappa Phi’s Ability Experience received a warm welcome in the midst of a two-month cross country bike ride. University of Nebraska student Nick Murdakes said, “You may have a tough day on the bike but when you meet someone who’s excited to see you, it’s the best feeling in the world.” At the back of the pack came a special rider. Lynn Redding has autism and a learning disability. But she would rather people focus on her abilities.
“Look what people with disabilities can do,” she said with a smile, as she completed a portion of the day’s ride with the fraternity members. With a donated bike, Redding raised $250 for the cause. Friends showered her with hugs, as her bike came to a rest. “It was awesome, just to know I made it was awesome,” she said.
Redding is a self-advocate, sharing her story to lawmakers or anyone else who will listen. Others find a voice through The Arc of Central Nebraska. Executive Director Amy Brezinski said, “The ability to experience is not a disability, it’s an ability in a different way. Great to spread awareness, you can do anything you put your mind to.” After 60 years, the local Arc organization has its first executive director with Brezinski, who recently took the job.
Board member Julie Stahla said, “We have always been a volunteer board and some of us are running out of time, and in order to move our chapter forward and bring more people in to The Arc, we thought this was a great thing to do.” It’s a mission that lines up with the Ability Experience, as fraternity members bring awareness on the cross country trek.