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Jounrey of Hope hits Hagerstown

August 10, 2000|By DON WORTHINGTON

Jounrey of Hope hits Hagerstown



The first time Matt Payne rode his blue Cannonade bike he went seven miles. It took him 20 minutes to clip his bike shoes into the bikes' pedals.

Six months later, Payne routinely rides 10 times that distance. As for the pedals, he doesn't even think about the start-up process.

His rides aren't recreational, they're rides with a purpose. He's one of 70 Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity brothers on a "Journey of Hope," a fund-raiser and awareness campaign on behalf of people with disabilities.

Thursday was Day 61 of a 63-day cross-country bike tour. Day 61 found the 325-member North team rolling into Hagerstown for the seventh consecutive year and to the Potomac Center on Marshall Street.

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The riders spent the night there on the gym floor. They washed off road grime from a climb out of Cumberland, Md., they described as grueling as anything they encountered in the Rockies and attended a cookout.

Most importantly, they shared their evening with the developmentally disabled of the Potomac Center. The residents range in age from 16 to 70.

"This is the hardest thing I've done that I've ever loved," said Payne of his trip. He is a May graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in political science.

Payne and his fraternity brothers started their ride at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It finishes Saturday at noon on the U.S. Capitol steps in Washington, D.C..

Along the way Payne said he's learned to "appreciate the little things in life.

"After a hard ride you see someone who can't ride a bike and put it into perspective. You realize how lucky you are."

Events such as the Potomac Center picnic "help keep you going for the next few days," Payne said.

The picnic was also anticipated by those at the Potomac Center, said employee Vicki Eccard. "They like to interact with people," she said. "This is one of the two big picnics we have."

This is the 13th year for the Journey Hope Tour. Organizers hope the tour raises more than $350,000 to fund the projects of Push American, the national outreach project of Pi Kappa Phi. The tour has a number of sponsors and each rider must raise $4,000.

Since 1977, Pi Kappa Phi has raised more than $6 million for Push America. Some of those funds have come back to the Potomac Center, which used grants to buy some three-wheeled bikes, Eccard said.

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