Jared Royer, a freshman finance major at Indiana State University and 2008 graduate of Northview High School, will spend his summer riding with the Journey of Hope, a 4,000-plus mile cross-country bicycle ride stretching from San Francisco to Washington D.C. The event is conducted by Push America, a philanthropical organization run by the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, which Royer is a member of.
Pi Kappa Phi has been putting the event on since 1988. All told, more than 900 undergraduate riders have participated in the event. In its current set-up, 80 members from three separate teams, take off from both San Francisco and Seattle. According to a press release on the organizations website, the goal of the Journey of Hope is "to spread a message of acceptance and understanding for people with disabilities,"
All riders have a minimum individual goal to raise $5,000. Royer said his personal goal was to raise $6,000. He started taking donations last week. Journey of Hope annually raises more than $500,000.
After taking an interest in the event, Royer had to write three essays to Push America outlining why he felt he was a viable candidate to take part in the ride, as well a list of fundraising programs and a workout regime he planed to partake in.
Royer did acknowledge the ride, which will accumulate around 75-miles-a-day, has the potential to be physically grueling. He said it's been awhile since he has been an active bike rider, but expressed no doubt as to whether or not he could handle the demanding schedule when the ride kicks off on June 10.
To prepare, Royer has recently began a work-out regimen consisting of alternating days of bicycling and weight lifting. He said he is "easing in" to his current workout schedule, and plans to continuously increase the intensity of each workout leading up to the ride.
In addition to the cross-county jaunt, Journey of Hope also consists of "friendship visits," in which participants visit various locations such as camps, schools, churches and athletic facilities aimed at offering assistance to the physically handicapped. Activities the groups plan to partake in include putting on puppet shows, dancing with local groups and playing games such as wheelchair basketball. Royer said he viewed the visits as being the most crucial part of the Journey, because it gave participants an opportunity to interact with the people they are attempting to help.
Royer said all the aspects of the summer event are appealing to him as they will give him an opportunity to experience life from a different perspective.
"I'm looking forward to the overall experience," Royer said. "It will help me gain an understanding of what (the physically disabled) go through everyday."
Above all, Royer said he was eager to spend his summer, a time generally reserved for youthful decadence, helping out people who are in need of assistance.
"I've done many things to benefit myself," Royer said. "I like that I have the chance to spend my summer giving back to those less fortunate."
The Journey of Hope runs from June 10-Aug. 14, 2009. Donations may be sent to Royer's address, 7920 North County Road 200 West, Brazil. They may also be made online at www.pushamerica.org/events/JOH. From there, click on the "2010 Roster & Profiles" link, then scroll down to his name.
All donations exceeding $25 are tax deductible. For further questions, contact Royer at 812-605-0588, or via email at Jroyer@indstate.edu.