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winter 2018
Ernesto holding bike over his head

Focusing on the ability

Wofford College Pi Kappa Phi brother participates in cross-country ride with The Ability Experience Journey of Hope.

When Ernesto Barquet-Arrambide, a Wofford College sophomore from Aiken, S.C., rolled into Wofford College on Aug. 3, he was all smiles. 

The 95-degree heat and more than 3,000 miles on the seat of a bike couldn't dim the joy he felt for his mission — to raise support and awareness for people with disabilities.

Before stopping at Wofford for the night, Barquet-Arrambide, a biology and theatre major, and other Pi Kappa Phi brothers and Journey of Hope riders visited the Charles Lea Center to meet some of the people who benefit from their ride.

"We focus on the ability instead of the disability," says Barquet-Arrambide. "Meeting people along the way has been the best part. I'll ride through the desert of Arizona, through Death Valley, and the mountains of Nevada any day for what we're doing."

Barquet-Arrambide gets it. During high school he suffered a football injury that changed his life. He was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and was told that he may never walk again. It took two years of therapy and hard work, but Barquet-Arrambide regained his ability to walk.

"After my personal experience, this cause is close to my heart," he says.

The Journey of Hope, a part of The Ability Experience, the philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi, is a 3,555-mile bicycle ride from Long Beach, Calif., to Washington, D.C. A typical day involves cycling an average of 75 miles in the morning then visiting friends with disabilities or local groups of supporters in the afternoons. Colleges and universities such as Wofford give the riders rooms for the night during the journey.

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington ’89, Fall 2016