MACOMB, Ill. (NEWS3) — Three Western Illinois University students took a trip across the country over the summer to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities.
WIU seniors and members of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity Derek Lahey, Kyle Ramlow and Justin Brown traveled on bikes from San Francisco to Washington D.C. over three months.
“I had availability and I had a summer to do it,” Lahey said. It’s what I wanted to do, so I took a leap of faith and I went for it.”
Lahey and Brown ended up riding close to 4,000 miles as they made frequent stops at disability camps. Ramlow was a crew member who assisted the riders with preparation and support throughout their journey.
“The biking really isn’t that hard,” Lahey said. “The most important thing that we do that day is the end visit, the end destination.”
The efforts are part of the frat’s national philanthropy, “The Ability Experience.” The event is called the “Journey of Hope.”
Throughout the journey, Lahey, Ramlow and Brown said they were able to see first-hand what thousands of people with disabilities go through on a daily basis.
They made new friends and empowered people who battle with disabilities.
The fraternity brothers focused on building confidence and motivation with everyone they met through fun activities.
“Knowing that I have the capabilities and the abilities to do all these things,” Lahey said. “It’s crazy that there’s a lot of people in this world that aren’t given the same opportunity and aren’t given the same cards that we were always given.”
Lahey and Ramlow stressed the importance of being humble and thankful for their abilities.
“They would give anything that they can to have that opportunity to even ride a bike,” Lahey said.
“Stay humble. And the best way to stay humble is to serve others,” Ramlow said.
All three seniors raised more than $20,000 together for disability camps.