While most people try hard to last 30 minutes on the stationary bikes in the Central Campus Recreational Building, LSA freshman Jerry Kozak is prepping for later in the year when he will have to pedal one to two hours, at a speed of 100 to 110 miles per hour — as per the instructions of his trainer.
Kozak is training for a two-month bike ride in the summer when 100 bike riders in shirts bearing the letters of Pi Kappa Phi can be seen pedaling from the east to west coast of the country. Starting in San Francisco, they are determined to reach their destination of Washington, D.C. on the Journey of Hope, a cross-country bicycle trek that raises money and awareness for the disabled.
Journey of Hope is a project run by Push America — Pi Kappa Phi national outreach program. Each summer, 100 Phi Kappa Phi members from across the country come together in San Francisco to complete the 4,000-mile bike ride to Washington.
Kozak, a member of Pi Kappa Phi, hopes to become the youngest member to participate by following the workout regiment laid out for all participants by an online trainer.
But that’s not all the preparation required for participation.
Along with the other 100 riders, Kozak must raise $5,000 to add to the $500,000 the journey participants hope to raise for people with disabilities.
To further their cause, the bike riders stop to work with disabled communities across the country every night.
“We really want to raise awareness of the abilities of the disabled, so we stop and do different things like put on puppet shows for the kids, organize wheelchair basketball games for the teenagers and have conversations with the elders,” Kozak said. One of the participants’ objectives is to make sure the disabled know that people still care, he added.
Kozak’s motivation to participate stems partially from those close to him who have disabilities.
“My best friend’s sister and my uncle both suffer from mental disabilities, so I already have a soft spot for all the people we’re trying to reach out to,” he said.
Chris Kozak, Jerry’s brother and a University alum, also influenced Jerry to participate in this event. Chris is a Pi Kappa Phi brother and plans to participate in the journey as well.
“I think this will also be a great time to spend with my brother before he goes and gets a job out of state,” Kozak said. “I’ll be spending a lot of time with him and seeing the entire country.”
Kozak also said he believes this program can help to reverse the negative image that the Greek system has on campus.
“I think a lot of people see people in the Greek system as people who just love to party,” he said. “While this aspect is still prevalent, there is still a lot more to the system than people first see. Once they see that people in the Greek system can devote so much time and give up two months to solely doing something like this, I think people can see the Greeks for something more.”
In attempts to raise his $5,000, Kozak has started a “coin war” between nine sororities. Kozak went around to these sororities, giving each a presentation about Journey of Hope and a bucket to collect coins. He said they have been very supportive, and he has raised $1,200 so far.
“While making friends and seeing the country, I think this will be a great way to reach out to the disabled community,” he said. “I think it will be a great way to spend my summer.”