Mason Student Bikes across USA in ‘Journey of Hope’

Posted: August 29, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

One of the popular pastimes of college students is traveling across the United States during the lull between the spring and fall semesters. This summer, George Mason rising senior John Lumsden did just that – on his bicycle.

Lumsden, an accounting major, participated in the Journey of Hope, a fund-raiser organized by the national chapter of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi. The “journey” involved bicycling more than 4,000 miles through a dozen states to raise money for individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

“My greatest learning experience from this bicycle trek is how I interact with people with disabilities. I would often shy off because I found it hard to hold a conversation. Now, it is a blast to hear their stories. I frequently find myself having an in-depth conversation about sports or activities that we both enjoy,” says Lumsden.

The Journey of Hope was sponsored by Push America, the national outreach project of Pi Kappa Phi. A total of 71 members of Pi Kappa Phi from throughout the country participated.

“The Journey of Hope allows you meet other people from all over the United States. You build a bond with other cyclists as well as everlasting friendships. Coming into this trip, I knew nothing about the other members of Pi Kappa Phi from other schools,” says Lumsden.

Each team member was required to raise $5,000 before the event began. The South team, of which Lumsden was a member, started its journey in San Francisco. The team members biked through California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, and ended in Washington, D.C.

Push America has been sponsoring the fund-raiser for 19 years. Lumsden notes that in one town, Jackson, Calif., residents unofficially designated the day of the bicyclists’ visit as “Push America Day.”

“Along the way, we met different groups who plan for us to come every year. In Jackson … they have a couple of holidays [including one] when we come. They even have their calendars printed with us on it so more people will attend,” says Lumsden.

Money raised by Lumsden and his fellow bicyclists is funneled to nonprofit groups that assist mentally and physically disabled people with medical machines, sports facilities, games and toys.

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