Cross-country cyclists visit people with disabilities

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Gabriel Miranda, left, a student at Virginia Tech, talks with Gerald Mills as members of Journey of Hope cycling attend a friendship visit at the Mountain State Center for Independent Living on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Huntington. The group of 20 cyclists and 8 crew members are participating in The Ability Experience’s Journey of Hope, a 4,200-mile cycling event across the country to raise funds and awareness for people with disabilities. Sholten Singer – The Herald-Dispatch

The Journey of Hope trek for the 20 cyclists and eight crew members began in Seattle earlier this summer and will end in Washington, D.C., in a few days after raising more than $154,000 for people with disabilities. The cyclists sat down for a dinner in Huntington on Wednesday night at the Mountain State Centers for Independent Living on 4th Ave.

The organization has been hosting a “friendship visit” for the cycling team every year for the past 13 years. “I look forward to it every year,” said Cathy Hutchinson, director of vocational services at the Centers for Independent Living. “And every year, about two weeks after they reach D.C., we get a phone call thanking us for having them and asking if we’d like to be a stop for them next year, and I say, ‘yes, no question about it.'”

Hutchinson said the Centers for Independent Living, which also has a location in Beckley, receives a grant each year from the program, which is used to purchase accessible technology for people with disabilities. The stops are a chance for the riders to get to know people across the country who are living with disabilities.

“The entire reason I joined the fraternity was for the opportunities offered through the Ability Experience,” said Matt Mozzo, a Pi Kappa Phi member who is entering medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, Georgia.

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