What is Push America?
In 1975, at the 35th Supreme Chapter in San Francisco, Durward Owen encouraged the Supreme Chapter to direct the National Council of Pi Kappa Phi to select a national project for the unification of the Fraternity within the activity of one philanthropic service. Upon this directive was also the restriction that this project be the singular project of Pi Kappa Phi. Pi Kappa Phi would not just choose to support an existing organization. This sole proprietorship requirement seemed at the time an insurmountable task.
About this time, Owen met a young man by the name of Thomas Sayre. Sayre, an artist and architect, was very interested in pursuing the expansion of his creative ideas regarding the role of play activity in early adolescent learning and the lack of such opportunities for people with disabilities.
Sayre developed play units to facilitate "therapeutic play" for children with severe disabilities. After extensive exploration, a presentation was made at the 36th Supreme Chapter in New Orleans recommending design, construction, and placement of said equipment. At Supreme Chapter in 1979, the national project was officially named P.U.S.H Play Units for the Severely Handicapped. Fraternity members from chapters all over the U.S. raised money to support the placement of play units in facilities in several states, and P.U.S.H. became a separate non-profit organization with its own staff.
Over the next 20 years, Push America has evolved from P.U.S.H., meaning Play Units for the Severely Handicapped, to People Understanding the Severely Handicapped, to finally dropping the acronym all together to become Push America.
From a creative idea to an impressive reality, Push America has made definite Pi Kappa Phi history while having a huge impact on the Greek system. Currently, undergraduate members of Pi Kappa Phi have raised more than 7 million dollars for Push America. Through a variety of events, Pi Kapps not only raise funds, they provide service and education to promote a greater understanding of people with disabilities.
At Zeta Chapter, Push America is an important part of our fraternity experience. We believe "service to others" is the best example of what words like "fraternity" and "brotherhood" are all about. That is why we enjoy the time we spend volunteering at facilities that serve people with disabilities, like the Charles Lea Centerhere in Spartanburg.
Locally, within the Spartanburg community, the brothers of Zeta Chapter contribute to Push Inc. by regularly working with a local organization called Recreational Activities, Inc. This is an organization that provides recreational opportunities for individuals with disabilities. For instance, we take these people, many of them children, bowling or to play kickball or basketball or “botchy ball”. Near Halloween, we helped put on a Halloween dance for them. We introduce our new members to these types of experiences early in hopes of ridding them of any stereotypes they may have of the disabled community and to make them more into advocates for this same group of people. Below are just a few pictures from some of out events.
Journey of Hope
The Journey of Hope is a cross-country bicycle event beginning in San Francisco, California. The trek traditionally concludes in Washington, D.C. Annually the team composed of 54 cyclists and 16 crew members raises $350,000 in support of the projects and programs of Push America. The team splits in to two smaller teams of 35 men that visit an excess of 100 cities over the course of the summer. The trip is sustained by a national network of more than 600 volunteers that aids in the planning and execution of the event. Each year the team reaches over 38 million people through local and national media. It begins usually in June and concludes in mid-August. The entire project lasts about nine weeks. Cyclists raise at least $5,000 and crew members raise at least $2,500. The Journey of Hope is open to all undergraduate members of Pi Kappa Phi. Cycling positions are reserved exclusively for undergraduate members. Cycling eligibility expires upon conclusion of the summer after graduation. Alumni members may apply for crew positions.
Wofford’s Zeta Chapter has been privileged enough to have 7 brothers ride for this honorable cause: Bill Holland in 1990, Shayne Daugherty and Martin Moore in 1992, Allan Anderson in 1994, Greg Bethard in 1995, Framp Henderson in 2000, and Alan Henderson in 2004. They can attest that it was a life altering experience that really opened their eyes to what the disabled can do, not what the can’t do.
JOH South Team 2000 Members at the Golden Gate Bridge
at the Kick-Off of the Journey.
Gear Up Florida
Gear Up Florida has grown into two premier weeks of programming offered by Push America. Since 1997, the team has grown to a group of 35 men per year. The team travels from Miami to Tallahassee, crossing the state of Florida. The trip visits 13 cities in 16 days, and raises an excess of $60,000 in support of the programs and projects of Push America. The team reaches an excess of 2 million people through a variety of local media. Gear Up Florida usually begins at the beginning of May and usually last about 3 weeks, two of which are spent on the road. Cyclists raise at least $1,800 and crew members raise at least $600. Unlike the Journey of Hope, Gear Up Florida is open to all members of Pi Kappa Phi. Both alumni and associate members are encouraged to participate. Ben Gantt represented Zeta Chapter in Gear Up Florida in 1999.
Other Push America Services
Besides The Journey of Hope and Gear Up Florida, Pi Kappa Phi and Push America serve people with disabilities through other programs like Give a Push Weekend camps, Push Camps, Build America construction projects, and AccessABILITY construction projects. We, the brothers of Zeta Chapter, work to raise awareness, volunteers, and funds for these programs and for people with disabilities. This past March we held our first annual Dodgeball Tournament where we raised almost three hundred dollars for Push America
For more information regarding Push America and it's programs, please visit their website.
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