Iona student cycling across the USA

Lanning Taliaferro, Patch New York

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY — Aidan Connolly, a student at Iona College in New Rochelle, will be cycling across the United States this summer in support of people with disabilities.

Connolly will be raising money for The Ability Experience, a charity established by the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, through the annual Journey of Hope. He’s one of about 100 riders on the 2021 team.

Pi Kappa Phi is the only national fraternity to establish its own philanthropic organization, Connelly said. The 501(c)(3) non-profit was founded in 1977.

“For more than 30 years, members of Pi Kappa Phi have been taking on a 3,000-mile trek across the country to spread the message of acceptance and understanding for people with disabilities on an event called Journey of Hope,” he said. “This summer, I will join other brothers and alumni from around the country on one of three routes, each beginning on the west coast and ending together in Washington, DC. Averaging 70 miles a day, my teammates and I will all ride across deserts, over mountains, and through the rain and heat. While this may seem like an impossible challenge, it is nothing compared to the obstacles faced every day by people with disabilities.”

As they go, they’ll be connecting with local communities at events they call Friendship Visits. These can include activities like sports, dance parties, cookouts or even Zoom calls.

“In a COVID-19 world, we will also be diligently working with local organizations to keep myself,
my team and their residents safe during this pandemic,” he said.

He’s raising money for the trip, because even with many generous supporters for meals and lodging along the way, there are still significant costs — plus the cyclists present grants to many of the local organizations aiding people with disabilities that they visit.

As part of the commitment, every cyclist is required to raise $7,500 before the start of the summer, Connolly said. He’s almost halfway there. To donate, go to Aidan Connolly’s fundraising page online.

Learn more about Journey of Hope, the 2021 team, and The Ability Experience here.