In 1976, Durward Owen, then Executive Director of Pi Kappa Phi, called a meeting of the minds with the leaders of Pi Kappa Phi in an effort to mobilize the work force that was the fraternity’s undergraduate members.
At that time, he approached a man named Thomas Sayre who designed a therapeutic play unit for children with severe disabilities. Little did they know that their collaboration would spur a philanthropic initiative that is, to this day, an unparalleled success in the Greek world.
Ingenuity has allowed for The Ability Experience to develop premier programming for Pi Kappa Phi undergraduates and alumni. What started out as construction of Thomas Sayre’s play unit has evolved into nationally recognized programs that work collectively to promote a greater understanding of people with disabilities.
Cycling to Raise Awareness
Construction for Accessibility
The Ability Experience’s construction effort first expanded in 1989 when the first Ability Weekend was held at Holy Angels in Charlotte, N.C. Now undergraduates from all over the country have the opportunity to attend one of these two-day programs, working together to construct accessible amenities for facilities serving people with disabilities.
An Ongoing Mission
Undergraduate chapters across the country have, and continue to establish, volunteer relationships with local facilities that serve people with disabilities, in conjunction with fundraising on campus and in their local communities for the programs of The Ability Experience. Members of Pi Kappa Phi have raised millions of dollars for the programs of The Ability Experience as well as donated millions of man hours to renovate facilities that serve people with disabilities across the country.
The history of The Ability Experience is not complete. New programs are on the horizon, there are more funds to be raised and there are millions of Americans to reach with our mission — and the message of how members of Pi Kappa Phi are bringing that mission to life every day.