The Capitol Lawn received its annual visit from The Ability Experience last week as a group of Pi Alphas, including Ability Experience staff members and long-time volunteers, rode from Charlotte, NC to Washington D.C. in memory of Todd Porterfield and Jason Tirado. The group arrived at the Capitol on August 9th, the same day the Journey of Hope had planned to arrive this year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pi Alphas traveled the last 565 miles of the Journey of Hope South Route from August 3rd to August 9th, raising over $20,000 for people with disabilities and honoring Porterfield and Tirado, two men who passed away in 2000 while serving The Ability Experience.
Tirado, Zeta Epsilon Chapter at George Mason University, passed away on April 30, 2000, from a fall during a hiking trip with friends in the North Carolina mountains. He was a Journey of Hope cyclist in 1999 and was spending the 2000 spring semester as Gear Up Florida project manager.
Porterfield, of the Alpha Delta Chapter at the University of Washington, passed away on August 7, 2000, when he was cycling with the Journey of Hope South team and was struck by a car in Lexington, North Carolina.
Along the ride, the team visited the site of Porterfield’s fatal accident in Lexington and Tirado’s gravesite in Fairfax, Virginia, holding a small memorial at each.
“It was about 65 miles up to Fairfax to honor Jason,” said CEO of The Ability Experience Basil Lyberg. “Everyone shared their memories of Jason and [Pi Kappa Phi National Historian] David Corey conducted the memorial ritual. It was crazy all the memories of Jason that came back from that ride.”
Lou Brooks, a 1989 Journey of Hope cyclist, joined the team in their journey to Washington D.C. and reflected on the impact Tirado and Porterfield had on his decision to cycle in their memory.
“Both Jason Tirado and Todd Porterfield had given them selves to service on behalf of people with disabilities in many ways including cycling across the country for The Ability Experience,” Brooks said. “Those of us who have bicycled across the US as a part of the Journey of Hope have a special bond, and this week we are raising funds in their honor to benefit people with disabilities, like my daughter Aly.”