Village resident John Sebben recently got
back from a 63-day Journey of Hope.
Sebben and 23
of his fraternity brothers rode bicycles
from the Golden Gate Bridge in San
Francisco to the steps of the U.S.
Capitol in Washington, D.C.
the lengthy trek, sponsored by the Pi
Kappa Phi fraternity and its
philanthropic arm, PUSH America, each
cyclist raised $4,000 for children with
is a senior studying business and
computer science at Truman State
University in Kirksville, MO.
group disembarked from San Francisco on
June 8 and arrived in Washington August 9.
Intermediate destinations included Carson
City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas,
Birmingham, Atlanta, and Charlotte.
cyclists spent 54 of those 63 days riding.
The other days were spent giving talks to
groups and spending time with children.
would visit large groups of people with
disabilities and do presentations for
other groups," Sebben said. "Some
days, we would give a presentation and
then spend a day at an amusement park or
a water park with another group. Each
cyclist would be paired up with a child
with a disability and would spend the day
Kappa Phi is the only national fraternity
that has its own charitable organization
that created, Sebben said.
one of the things that attracted me to
the Pi Kapps," he said. "Out of
all the projects we have, the Journey of
Hope seemed to me like the one I could
best use my time to help others in need,
as well as help the fraternity."
being accepted on the Journey of Hope
team, Sebben began raising money and
training for the long ride. In Kirksville
and later in St. Louis, he set a goal of
riding 50 miles per day.
were two groups in the team. One took a
northern route via Denver and Chicago.
Sebben's group head through the Old South.
there really is no training that would be
sufficient in preparing you to bike
across the country aside from biking
across the country to begin with,"
he said. "The first week was really
hard. We went through the Sierra Nevada.
You won't find conditions like that in
Missouri -- or just about anywhere else."
through the mountains proved to be the
feel that as the trip went on, it became
apparent how much the team had improved
over the first couple days," he said.
"You could see how much our bodies
had changed when we got our photos back."
Kappa Phi member Thomas Sayre founded
PUSH America in 1977 to raise money for
exercise equipment for children with
disabilities. In the years that followed,
the organization added volunteer
opportunities. For instance, Sebben and
several other members were able through a
spring break program to help repair
hurricane damage and build a fishing and
boating dock in Alabama.
also put on puppet shows that help
children with and without disabilities
learn to interact better.
Journey of Hope started out in 1987 with
one member riding from Oregon to Virginia.
that it grew to the 66-man ride it is
today," Sebben said.
like these help to change people's
negative perceptions about fraternities,
at the places we stopped, when people saw
the Journey of Hope and that it was
fraternity people, they were pleasantly
surprised," he said. "There are
fraternities that want to be service
organizations as well as social settings."
the fourth day, the group took a 65-mile
trek up an 8,000 foot elevations. They
broke open the champagne to celebrate
when the last two cyclists made it to the
top of the mountain.
of Sebben's most potent recollections
from the trip was in the small town of
Muleshoe, TX. The town's chamber of
commerce provided a steak dinner.
of the daughters of a chamber of commerce
member was a 34-year-old woman who had
Down's Syndrome," Sebben said.
"She was very articulate, very
outgoing. We played pool and ping pong
also helped her celebrate her 35th
birthday, two days in advance.
team cook prepared a cake for her,"
Sebben said. "He brought it out
after dinner, and we all sang 'Happy
Birthday.' She started crying tears of
joy. She thanked up and told us we are
her best friends in the world. She came
around to every single one of us and gave
us a great big hug. There was not a dry
eye in the house. It was an incredible
temperature was 117 degrees -- the
hottest temperature in the country that
day -- when they rode through Bullhead
City, AZ. They rode 100 miles into a 40
mph head wind.
took us about 12 hours," he said.
"We were going down a 7-percent
grade hill, and we still had to pedal.
That's how bad the head wind was."
bank signs in Las Vegas registered 106
degrees at 9 a.m.
we got into Texas, it was a little cooler,"
he said. "But the humidity kicked in
in Louisiana. By the time we hit the
Carolinas, it would be only 65 degrees at
the end of the journey, when they went
through Charleston, S.C., they crossed
the campus where the fraternity was
founded in 1904. There was a Pi Kappa Phi
national conference taking place there.
turned a corner, and there we were in
front of the College of Charleston, and
about a thousand Pi Kapps cheering up on,"
he said. "We were right at the
administration hall of the campus. It's a
columned building with a clock that the
fraternity donated to the campus for Pi
Kappa Phi's 50th anniversary. And here we
were riding our bikes up to it with a
thousand people clapping for us."
cyclists entered the District of Columbia
from the site of the Battle of Bull run
in Manassas, VA. They headed to Francis
Scott Key Bridge, and waited for a police
escort at Washington Circle. At 11:45 a.m.,
they headed down Pennsylvania Avenue past
the White House, the Smithsonian, and the
two teams formed a 67-member brigade
of all the buildings, we could not see
the Capitol until we hit the corner of
Pennsylvania and Constitution," he
said. "Then, it was right there in
front of us. It was only three blocks
away. We could see a huge crowd of people
waiting at the bottom of the hill, and
was an incredible adrenaline rush to see
the families mobbing their sons," he
said. "Part of us wanted the moment
to last forever. Part of us just wanted
to get in there and see our families for
the first time in two months. And part of
us wanted to turn around and start over
again. We had such a great time, we
couldn't believe it was over."
has been accepted to ride in the journey
again next summer. He said he has to
think about it before accepting. He went
out cruising on four of the six days
following his return.
won't be doing 75 miles a day again, but
I have come to rely on the bike as a nice
way to get around," he