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.
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 Center here 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.
In 1987, one man’s dream of riding his bike across the country came
true. What he did not know was the inspiration and motivation his trek
across America would give to Push America. The very next year his ride
inspired Push America to create the largest fraternal fundraising and
awareness event of its kind, the Journey of Hope. Today the Journey of
Hope covers 32 different states, cycling over 12,000 miles combined, it
is solely comprised of members of Pi Kappa Phi and continues to spread
a message of acceptance and understanding for people with disabilities.
The Journey of Hope reaches out to people through newspapers,
radio and television, civic groups and community leaders, reaching
millions of people annually and bringing to the forefront the abilities
of people with disabilities. From the inaugural team of 21 team members
raising $20,000, the team has since been expanded into three different
routes of 35 Pi Kappa Phis and annually raises more than $500,000. To
date, over 900 undergraduates have participated in the Journey of Hope.
One man’s dream made it all possible.
The Journey of Hope is a
cross-country bicycle trek beginning in San Francisco, CA and Seattle,
WA and ending together with all teams in Washington, D.C. The event
raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities. Simply put,
the Journey of Hope is a ride with a purpose. Make no mistake; this is
not a simple ride. The Journey of Hope is about many things. It is
about challenging the norm. It is about serving our communities. It is
about finding out more about ourselves than we ever imagined. It is
about having a dream. It is about a mission. It is about hope.
Wofford’s Zeta Chapter has been privileged enough to have 8 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, Alan Henderson in 2004, and Spenser Smith in 2008. 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.
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.