We’ve spent the past few weeks working tirelessly to find a way to host Gear Up Florida, while ensuring the safety of all participants. We’ve heard heartbreaking stories from our partners in Florida of the profound impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed for communities.
Additionally, the current CDC guidelines for in-person events ends on May 15 and Gear Up Florida orientation is May 17, 2020. Even if this guideline is removed, the timing does not allow us to react in order to host our event. Above all, given the information we have about the state of Florida, we feel to proceed would put those who are so dedicated to the mission at a very high risk, especially with some of our fragile populations. As the coronavirus outbreak spreads, we cannot in good conscience proceed with the event.
Considering all these circumstances, we have had to make the very difficult decision to cancel Gear Up Florida for 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19.
While the event itself is now not happening in-person, that does not mean the mission or need for shared experiences goes away. The pandemic has caused us all to feel an immense sense of social isolation, and in conversations with our partners, the social distancing requirements has created a situation where many of our friends across Florida are completely cut off from their support networks. No one can visit them or care for them in some cases.
Due to this immediate need that our Gear Up Florida community faces, The Ability Experience is launching a virtual friendship visit program where we will partner with organizations across Florida to continue to serve our mission in a new and unique way.
We need your support to make social interaction and support a reality for our friends with disabilities. While the coronavirus has changed the world over the course of a very short time, we are resolved to ensure it won’t impact the friendships we have built over the last 23 years across the state of Florida.
I hope you will join The Ability Experience to continue to serve a mission that creates uncommon opportunities for the men of Pi Kappa Phi. See below for ways you can get involved today!
Alternative Participation Opportunities
Virtual Gear Up Florida
This is a virtual experience for a team to ride “together” and participate in friendship visits with some of our friends across Florida who, in most instances, are isolated from the family and friends they rely on for their social support.
As schedules allow, team members will ride solo or on a team to virtually cover the 870 miles. We’ll ride together on Zoom, Zwift or you can go out on rides in your area while practicing social distancing.
Regardless of how you get there this is a great opportunity to connect with your brothers in a unique way.
For the friendship visits we have started to work with our partners in Florida to find ways for our brothers to connect with people with disabilities. Our goal is to create a few events where we can engage some of the same participants you would have met along the original route … and beyond. Events will look like virtual campfires, game nights and event dances. We will be relying on you and your networks as well to help us find brothers who can share their talents to make some magic for our friends along the Gear Up Florida route.
While there is no fundraising minimum to participate, brothers who raise $2,500 and complete the 870 miles will be inducted into the Pi Alpha Society.
Each team member who completes this challenge will receive a jersey, a Pi Alpha pin, and a certificate.
Interested? To sign up as a 2020 Gear Up Florida Virtual team member, please click here to get registered!
We are currently working on what the virtual experience looks like for our crew but don’t have the exact answer yet. We do know that we’ll need help with social media, ride coordination, technology and fundraising, so if you have an interest in continuing to work on behalf of The Ability Experience we encourage you to sign up for Virtual Gear Up Florida. We will work with you on the next steps.
Interested? To sign up as a 2020 Gear Up Florida Virtual crew member, please click here to get registered!
Secure your spot on the 2021 or later team
All team members will have the opportunity to ride or crew on any of our events in a future year. We know the value in having this experience and for those where this is an option, we will give you the support you need to make this happen!
SPECIAL NOTE: To register for a 2021 event, use the code 2020 for the links below.
This circumvents the application and will get your ready to ride. If you want to ride in 2022 or later just contact a staff member when you’re ready and we’ll get you signed up.
Are you a graduating senior?
We hope you will consider the Virtual Gear Up Florida option.
In the past we have had students that have their trips cut short due to medical school orientations, or an injury or illness, and they’ve worked hard to come back in a future year as well. You can also work with the staff to do smaller ride–alongs to put together the same experience.
Donations, Registration Fee and Security Deposit
Gear Up Florida Donations
The answer to why donations can’t be transferred to 2021 is two-fold. We have expenses that have been paid out for the planning of this year’s trip and organizations in Florida and across the country that we still need to serve. If we carried the donations over to next year, Gear Up Florida would cease to exist, and The Ability Experience could not withstand the financial strain.
All team members who have earned incentives will receive their incentives regardless of their choice to participate in Virtual Gear Up Florida. Those will be mailed once we make the final orders on a few of the items.
Nothing about the COVID –19 outbreak has been easy. But for so many reasons, we want you to come back. We have an important mission to fulfill and want you to be a part of it! Regional Directors will help you navigate these fundraising challenges and provide the support you need throughout your entire journey.
Registration Fee & Security Deposit
This year’s registration fee will not be refunded, however, the registration fee for next year’s event will be waived. Also, all security deposit checks will be mailed out as soon as the new address for team member’s is confirmed.
We are here for you every step of the way. This is a lot to take in and not what you, or anyone else expected to happen this spring. Please take time to process and discuss options with your family and mentors as to how you can best proceed.
We’d love to talk with you and help navigate what this looks like for you. Within the next day or two, please set up a call with your Regional Director to discuss your options with us – and we encourage you to include your family or anyone else on the call.
Please stay in touch with us. While nothing is panning out in 2020 for just about anyone, we know this is a huge let down. We have people you can talk with to help process this or to set up a game plan so you can have this life changing experience.
Here’s a quick recap of your options:
- Sign up for the 2020 Virtual Gear Up Florida Event
- Sign up for a 2021 Event
- Sign up for a 2022 event or beyond by contacting The Ability Experience team when you are ready to sign up
If you have additional questions, please set up a time to speak with your Regional Director.