CLEWISTON — On Sunday, May 12, a group of fraternity men consisting of 23 cyclists and eight crew members will arrive in Clewiston having cycled 95 miles from Miami in one day. Their journey is day one of Gear Up Florida, an 850-mile annual ride across the state supporting people with disabilities. During the two-week event organized by The Ability Experience, the men will average 75 miles per day as they journey from Miami to Tallahassee, raising funds and awareness as they go.
The team is made up of men from across the U.S. who are members of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and have each raised at least $3,000. Together with corporate sponsors, the team has raised over $86,000 this year; over its 40-year history, The Ability Experience has raised more than $15 million in support of people with disabilities.
A 14-leg journey across the state, the trip gives cyclists the chance to interact with members of the communities they ride through. At nearly every stop, the team has friendship visits at local community centers and organizations, giving them a chance to meet, learn from and begin friendships with the very people they are riding to support. These visits, featuring activities like basketball games and dancing, are regarded as some of the most impactful moments.
The mission of The Ability Experience is to use shared experiences to support people with disabilities and develop the men of Pi Kappa Phi into servant leaders. The Ability Experience organizes Gear Up Florida and two national service projects each summer. It is the national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity which founded the organization in 1977 and is committed to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities.