Most would turn down the idea, but for Mineola native Patrick Lynch, the opportunity is a dream come true.
This summer, Lynch will be riding for Journey of Hope, a fraternal fundraising event that takes place annually by members of Pi Kappa Phi throughout the nation.
“When I first was initiated in Pi Kappa Phi in 2014, I heard about the experience of philanthropy, Journey of Hope and being able to travel the country and spread the word about accessibility and awareness,” said Lynch. “I knew that was something I needed to do. It felt unrealistic. It felt like a dream.”
Lynch, a junior at Iona College, has been selected to be one of the 84 cyclists, along with 24 crew members, who will travel from three separate locations with one goal in mind: spreading awareness for those with disabilities.
“To see their reaction and how much that means to them means the world to us,” said Lynch. “That truly is what the trip is all about. Just being able to say we’re all the same and having that experience of working together means so much. We cycle across the country for those who can’t walk across the streets.”
Each team will leave from either Seattle, San Francisco or Los Angeles and bike across the country until they reach Washington D.C. Lynch flies out to Seattle on June 4, for orientation, and begins his eight week journey on June 8.
Over his 4,200 mile journey, he will make “friendship visits” everyday to local groups supporting people with disabilities and spend time with the people they are trying to raise awareness for. Lynch said awareness is one of the biggest motivators for this journey.
“Knowing that 54 million Americans live with a disability, we want to make sure everyone is able to go throughout their day without having to struggle,” said Lynch, adding that accessibility like wheelchair ramps and elevators was key. “Having the opportunity to meet the participants and staff at local organizations is incredible, and witnessing their tender generosity is something that motivates us on the bike.”
Raising awareness isn’t the only benefit to this journey. The Journey of Hope participants often form bonds that Lynch said will last a lifetime.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the relationships I’ll have the opportunity to create and build over the course of the summer,” Lynch said. “The number of hours I’ll be spending on the bike with these brothers will be tremendous, which gives us plenty of time to really get to know each other”
Lynch has participated in the event in the past as a member of the crew. Crewmembers are responsible for reaching out to local media about the event, writing thank you cards and driving in vans alongside the cyclists during the trip.
“We made sure everyone was hydrated,” said Lynch. “Every 10 miles there was a van ahead and behind so once the cyclists move past the first van it would move up.”
Training for a cross country bike ride is no small feat. Lynch began training in September with short
distance cycling rides, upping the training to longer rides and stationary bike work when the weather was poor. He also did a lot of running.
“As of now, I’ve cycled 1,300 miles since September and have ran about 200 miles,” Lynch said. Lynch has set an individual goal of raising $7,500 for the cause that will be added to his team’s goal of $650,000. All proceeds of his donations will be going towards grants for people with disabilities.