What could possibly push a person to want to bicycle across America?
How about wanting to bring awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities?
That's what Christopher Adams, 19, of Brodheadsville is planning to do this summer.
He is a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.
After hearing about his fraternity brothers' experiences on a biking event called "Journey of Hope," he was inspired and motivated to make the trip and see for himself the country and what kind of difference he could help make.
He will arrive in San Francisco on June 9 and attend orientation.
Then he and 77 cyclists will take off from the Golden Gate Bridge and begin their 4,000 miles journey to Washington, D.C. on June 13
Chris and 26 others will travel the southern route, and another third will travel the northern route, and another third, the mid-country route. They will rendezvous and then make the final lap to the Capitol building on Aug. 14.
Pi Kappa Phi, founded at the turn of the 20th century, is the only national fraternity to establish and maintain its own national nonprofit philanthropy – Push America. It's mission is to instill lifelong service in its members and to learn and respect those with mental and/or physical disabilities as people, not defined or confined by their handicaps. It's why Chris decided to pledge Pi Kappa Phi.
"I've always been altruistic. I've always offered my hand to assist anyone in need, be it friend or stranger. When I pledged Pi Kappa Phi, I was very aware of the chapter's commitment to philanthropy," says Chris.
It was in 1976 that Durward Owen, the executive director of Pi Kappa Phi, called together the leaders of the fraternity to mobilize the workforce of the fraternity's undergraduates and alumni. It began with the construction of a therapeutic play unit for children with severe disabilities. This evolved into a collection of nationally recognized programs that promote a greater understanding of people with disabilities.
The Journey of Hope is a by-product of Push America. In 1987, Bruce Rogers, a member of Pi Kappa Phi, decided to cycle across America to bring more attention to the mission of Push America, which inspired the creation of the Journey of Hope in 1988 and has since become a great way to raise funds and spread awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities.
As Chris travels across the country, biking 75 miles a day, he and his fellow cyclists will stop each night and stay at a community center to socialize with people of varying types and degrees of disabilities.
Chris was raised in Newark, NJ. His family moved to Brodheadsville in 2002 and he started seventh grade at Pleasant Valley Middle School. As a student at Pleasant Valley High School, Chris was a volunteer and buddy each year for the annual Special Olympics. Also a member of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Chris participated in many fundraising events for charities. A young family member who has spina bifida has given him a stronger awarness of the disability.
He graduated from PV in 2008. He is a sophomore at Cornell University with a double major in psychology and philosophy. He plans to attend graduate school and go on to earn a Ph.D. He wants to go into clinical psychology research to help those with depression and autism.
"I also learned values from my family. We're a tight Portuguese family with values and commitments to giving back to the community," says Chris. He is the son of Luisa and Robert Adams. His older sister, Stephanie Adams, is in her last year of law school, where she is studying International Law.
Chris made the decision to participate in the Journey of Hope last November. He says at first his mom was against him making the trip.
"She's very protective. But now my parents are both behind me 100 percent because they see how much it means to me," he said.
The most cycling he had done up to last November was as a kid with a mountain bike.
His cousin loaned him a bicycle so he could start training immediately. He has been trying to bike as many miles up hill and as fast as possible. Every other day he goes to the gym to lift weights to strengthen his entire body. He eats protein based foods.
"Some days I look at my bike in the morning and I don't want to do it. But I psych myself out and my brothers who have done the Journey of Hope motivate me and bike with me. Once I'm out there, I love it. I've become addicted to it," he said.
Chris can only imagine the impact this summer's cycling excursion will have on him, physically and mentally and he knows it will be an experience of a lifetime. He's looking forward to seeing country he's never seen before and meeting people he's never met before.
(Before Chris Adams leaves, he needs to raise $7,000. If you would like to support Chris in his Journey of Hope, you can send donations to Christopher Adams, Cornell University, 55 Ridgewood Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 with a check made out to Push America. You can call him at (570) 856-5870 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or donate online by visiting http://secure.pushamerica.org/chrisadams. Any donation above $25 is tax-deductible and every dollar is used to fund Push America programs of housing construction, awareness advertising and the Journey of Hope. You can visit www.pushamerica.org to learn more about it.)