Raising awareness for those with developmental disabilities

By Matthew Herchik, WCMH

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The say you can’t put a price on love.

And for two fraternity brothers raising money for a cause near-and-dear to their hearts, no distance is too far either when it comes to the love of family.

“He has always been like, one of the happiest guys that I know,” admits Pi Kappa Phi fraternity member Killian Welsch.

Welsch, who is a student at Ohio State, is referring to his cousin Matt, who he says is his inspiration.

“Just really [have to] appreciate that everyone is a human being and people shouldn’t be defined by a disability that they have,” Welsch encourages.

It’s for Matt, and that broader outlook, that has Welsch following in the path his brother paved back in 2015.

“I just saw how awesome of an experience it was for him and how impactful it was on the lives of other people,” recalls Welsch.

Welsch will join his fraternity brother Tristan Lehmiller for The Journey of Hope in June — a cross country bike ride aimed at raising money and awareness for those with developmental disabilities.

“We take a lot for granted in our lives. The ability to walk, breathe, and handle daily life normally. And some people don’t have that blessing,” says Lehmiller.

While Welsch rides for his cousin living with cerebral palsy, Lehmiller’s motivation is his brother Peyton, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3.

“People like him have really struggled during COVID, you know? It’s hard to explain,” Lehmiller admits.

The pair will fly from Columbus to California on June 10.

Days later they will depart, setting out on the journey that will see them ride nearly 3,700 miles total from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

During the two-month trek, they and fellow riders will take part in “Friendship Visits” in various locations, meeting individuals like their loved ones and support organizations along the way.

“I really just want to spread positivity and really befriend more people like him. And spready joy during a time that can be negative and try to make the world a better place,” Lehmillers adds.

Welsch and Lehmiller will ride on average 70 miles per day, sleeping in places like churches and rec centers each night.

The two leaving home for a cause that has hit home and hoping to bring more focus to an at-times marginalized population.

“I just hope to give back to the people with disabilities that we’re meeting with and to meet all these amazing people along the way and touch the lives of others,” says Welsch.

Welsch and Lehmiller each must raise funds to participate in The Journey of Hope.

If you would like to donate to their rides and help support those with developmental disabilities, you can follow the links below.

Killian Welsch: https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/3010679

Tristan Lehmiller: https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/3058714