People with disabilities are focus of annual Journey of Hope ride

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Barrett Stinson

A cycling team riding from the West Coast to the East Coast over the course of 63 days arrived at the Holiday Inn on South Locust shortly before noon Monday. The cross-country trip, or Journey of Hope, is a tradition of The Ability Experience, which was founded in 1977 by Pi Kappa Phi. The organization, previously called Push America, serves people with disabilities by raising money and spreading the message that people with disabilities should be celebrated and encouraged for their abilities. And by bicycling 4,000 miles in about two months to show their support and connect with the community.

Bicyclist Brad Welch, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, said the movement helps people with disabilities, but these children and adults also help those involved in the movement. A group of Grand Island locals, including some with developmental disabilities and their families, greeted the Journey of Hope cyclists outside the entrance to the hotel with banners, smiles, handshakes and fist bumps. “When we get to places like this and you see how excited they all are, it’s amazing to see that we can have such an affect on people all across the country,” Welch said.

The group will stay in Grand Island until Wednesday morning. Their stay includes a dance at the Elks Lodge with members of the community, a puppet show for local day cares to educate kids about people with disabilities and a picnic.

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