A group of bicycle riders are pedaling across Iowa today, on a cross-country trek for the disabled. Spokesman Kyle Thomas says the “Push America” ride began more than fifteen years ago as a service project for a fraternity, and members of Pi Kappa Phi still ride from coast to coast every year.

There are 3 routes, the north, south, and “Trans-America” going across the country this summer, all raising funds on behalf of people with disabilities. Thomas says you’ll recognize the riders when they come through town, as they’re all wearing matching cycling jerseys and will be accompanied by crew vehicles. They’ll raise half-a-million dollars, but Thomas says that part of the project is already done.
They had a fundraising quota before beginning the ride — five-thousand dollars for cyclists, 25-hundred for crew members.

With the fundraising done, they can focus on other activities during the event. And they do — although their spokesman says it’s not just the kind of fun familiar to riders in Iowa’s biggest bike ride coming up later this month. “It’s not just about the bike ride,” Thomas says. In every town they go to there will be a “friendship visit” with some organization — performing a puppet show, playing wheelchair basketball or attending a dance, the riders will interact one-on-one with people with disabilities.

With the money raised for this bike ride, the members will build handicapped-access additions to buildings in local communities, run summer camps and construct accessible environments on school campuses. Their route through Iowa took them to Griswold on Friday, Winterset today (Saturday), and they’ll be at Camp Sunnyside north of Des Moines on Sunday.

On Monday they ride through Marshalltown, and Tuesday they visit Camp Courageous at Monticello. Wednesday July 19 the cyclists arrive in Dubuque, before heading out of the state on their journey to the nations capital.