Parent/Guardian Center

Welcome! If your loved one is considering Journey of Hope or Gear Up Florida, you've come to the right place for all the important info that you'll need about this event. Learn about what these events are, what team members will be doing, what will be expected from them, and some of our ongoing safety efforts as they complete their life-changing journey.

The Ability Experience, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded in 1977 and remains the exclusive philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi with the purpose of instilling lifelong service in our fraternity members and serving people with disabilities.

In 1987, a young Pi Kappa Phi alumnus named Bruce Rogers embarked on a daunting journey of cycling across the country in an effort to bring more attention to the mission of The Ability Experience. A year later in 1988, inspired by his inaugural trip, a student member named Jim Karlovec planned out the first team ride from his dorm room in Bowling Green, OH.

Now, more than 35 years later, nearly 150 men participate in  Journey of Hope and Gear Up Florida every summer. Each year, members of Pi Kappa Phi cycle from Miami to Tallahassee, FL on Gear Up Florida and from Seattle, San Francisco and Santa Barbara to Washington, D.C. on Journey of Hope. They do this as a way of delivering a message of acceptance and understanding for our friends with disabilities.


Few people can say that they’ve successfully traveled from coast to coast or across the whole state of Florida; even fewer on a set of two thin wheels. After a morning meeting, cyclists spend their days riding in small groups from town to town while the crew supports them on the route by marking turns, setting up stops with snacks and water, and helping ensure they make their journey safely. Team members then spend the rest of their days at ‘Friendship Visits’ having shared experiences with people with disabilities, and spreading the message of inclusion to all they meet along their journey as they continue to grow themselves. Generous volunteers provide lodging and meals for the teams along the way.

A Once-in-a-Lifetime Summer

“17 years later, I still get asked about these events, as they are the only pre-medical school service events I keep on my CV. This event helped me get into medical school, as it was an event that ‘stood out’ from the rest and truly showed how dedicated I was to helping and serving others. To me, it is the most impactful and important event I have done or will ever do”

Both Journey of Hope and Gear Up Florida provide an exceptional and unique opportunity, the likes of which can’t be found anywhere else. Every year, these events help to transform fraternity men into servant leaders, creating a foundation for a lifelong attitude of servant leadership. These experiences have inspired team members to find  a deeper meaning and motivation in their lives, new ways to give back and propel themselves into their careers.

Journey of Hope

A cross-country cycling trip serving people with disabilities. Three teams cycle an average of 75 miles each day, participating in friendship visits where men of Pi Kappa Phi and people with disabilities celebrate the abilities of all people with each stop. In a once-in-a-lifetime unparalleled adventure, men spend their summer pushing themselves to become a driven servant leader, creating incredible connections and bonds with the team and all the people they meet along the way.

Specific Dates and Details

Journey of Hope Event Page

Crew Positions

Crew positions provide a unique paid internship opportunity for men that will be 21 or older during the trip. Many crew alumni will often tell you the most outstanding value they got from the trip were the shared experiences from friendship visits, the relationships built with team members, and seeing some of the country’s most iconic places to offer.

Crew Page

Gear Up Florida

A great way to kick-off the summer, this is a two-week trip that covers 900 miles from Miami to Tallahassee. The 35-man team cycles from city to city participating in friendship visits where men of Pi Kappa Phi and people with disabilities celebrate the abilities of all people. Our members can’t go wrong starting a summer with the best 2 weeks of programming that The Ability Experience has to offer! Men will be touching the lives of countless individuals and gaining invaluable experience working with a team of passionate and diverse individuals from across the country.

Specific Dates and Details

Gear Up Florida Event Page

Team Safety

Keeping our team members safe will always be a top priority of the organization. Navigating the country’s roadways on a bicycle is not something we take lightly. With the help of our Safety Committee, we do what we can to ensure that not only do team members have the summer of a lifetime, they do so safely. Here are some of the things we do to make sure our teams are safe:

  • Newest tech in bike lights, and high-visibility / reflective clothing.
  • Extensive training program and regular live instruction from our professional cycling coaches.
  • Experienced cyclists and cycling coaches ride with the team during Orientation and first few days on the road at the beginning of each trip.
  • Riding in groups during the trip, cyclists are always within a few miles of the nearest crew member and support vehicle.


Expectations from Participants

Events like these come with a good deal of preparation, and as such, there are things that we ask out of our participants to make these events possible and ensure they are prepared to enjoy them to the fullest. All team members have a minimum fundraising commitment that they need to reach in order to participate, as well as various training items listed below. Throughout the preparation stage, they receive regular support and advice from our staff to help them through any roadblocks and ensure they are on the right track.

  • Minimum Fundraising Commitment:
    • Gear Up Florida – Cyclists = $3,500 | Crew = $1,500
    • Journey of Hope – Cyclists = $6,500 | Crew = $3,000
  • Cyclists have a hand-tailored training plan put together by our professional cycling coaches
  • Crew members receive position-specific training in advance as well as in-person training before the event
  • Regular check-ins and support from staff
  • Cyclists are required to get their own bike and equipment
  • Crew members must have an up-to-date drivers’ license and good driving record

We are passionate about this being an experience that everyone has the opportunity to have. We will work with team members to find a plan that works for them. We are proud to say that nobody who has put in the work and effort has ever been unable to participate because they couldn’t find a bike or hit their fundraising commitment! We recognize this is a team effort from day one and will do what we can to provide the best opportunity possible for a life-impacting event!

Journey of Hope Team

Check out the previous team's page to get a glimpse into what the trip is all about! Check out the different itineraries and routes, pictures, social media accounts and much more!

Gear Up Florida Team

Check out the previous team's page to get a glimpse into what the trip is all about! Check out the different itineraries and routes, pictures, social media accounts and much more!

How can you get involved?

Both Gear Up Florida and Journey of Hope are very exciting for team members and their families; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that nobody wants to miss. As a parent/guardian of a team member, you will have access to various resources, webinars, and regular updates to support your team member throughout their entire journey. Once the trip starts, you’ll be able to follow them on their journey and celebrate their accomplishment when they arrive. Please let us know if you have any questions. You are just as much a part of the team as the team members themselves!

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