Skyline alum plans charity bike ride across the country
January 7, 2014
By Neil Pierson
Kyle Roth doesn’t consider himself an avid cyclist, but this summer he’ll cover roughly twice the distance of a Tour de France rider.
The 21-year-old Roth, a 2010 Skyline High School graduate and senior at the University of Washington, is embarking upon a 4,000-mile ride in June to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities.
Roth is one of four Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brothers at the UW — and one of about 75 nationwide — who plan to ride from Long Beach, Calif., to Washington, D.C., on a 64-day Journey of Hope.
The group will average 60-75 miles per day, and along the way, they plan to meet with people with disabilities and spread a positive message. From Long Beach, they’ll go to Las Vegas, turn south toward Dallas, and then finish up with a ride north through Georgia and the Carolinas before arriving in the nation’s capital.
The event is the brainchild of Push America, a nonprofit organization under the ownership of Pi Kappa Phi and its 177 chapters across the nation.
The fraternity started the nonprofit in 1977 with “the purpose of instilling lifelong service in its members and enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities,” the Push America website states.
For Roth, it also presents a more personal obstacle.
“I looked at it as sort of a challenge, sort of to test myself,” he said. “Also, getting to see the country and getting to see a ton of people along the way is going to be a great experience.
“And I’m hoping to sort of get out of it the ability to dive right into things, not be hesitant, when trying to decide whether to do something big.”
The trip will be an unprecedented challenge. The past two summers, Roth said, he’s participated in a miniature Journey of Hope, riding with PKP brothers from Portland to Seattle.
“No training — I just sort of hopped into it,” he said of the experience. “It was pretty difficult. I probably should’ve done some training. And that’s what I’m doing now for this big trip, but other than that, that’s the only real big bike riding I’ve done.”
Philanthropic efforts are a big part of PKP’s mission, Roth said. He began to understand that as a freshman, when he was part of a fraternity trip to an Easter Seals camp. There, the group built a shed, a fence and play equipment for campers, and interacted with them through various activities like a haunted house.
“It was really fun,” Roth said. “That was my first sort of experience with the philanthropy, and I’ve just been trying to go to every single event we’ve put on ever since, because you get so much out of them.”
A math and physics major at the UW, Roth is searching for ways to meet his fundraising goal of $5,500. As of last week, he was more than 25 percent there, but had only received support from friends, family and PKP alumni.
Since its inception, the Journey of Hope has raised more than $15 million, and it’s aiming for $500,000 in 2014.
Roth hopes potential donors can understand the importance of the cause.
“We’re going cross-country and spreading a message that people need to see the person before they see a disability,” Roth said. “A lot of people sort of get uncomfortable when dealing with people with disabilities.”