Sept. 14, 2010
Renee DeGross Valdes, 404-413-1353
ATLANTA - David Orland Brown has seen many corners of this country from the seat of his bicycle. While doing so, the Georgia State University senior in international real estate has also raised $12,000 for people with disabilities.
This past summer, Brown completed his second cycling trek with Journey of Hope, an annual fundraising event with Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. With the fraternity's charity that operates the ride, PushAmerica, cyclists pedaled across the country to help raise awareness and funds for the disabled. Many participants blogged throughout the ride.
Brown, a native of Gainesville, Ga., represented GSU and his local fraternity in the ride, which offers three routes to choose from, north, south and transamerica. Brown chose to cycle north.
The journey for Brown began at sea level in San Francisco. Though he ended his journey at nearly 10,000 feet in Breckenridge, Colo., the remaining 27 cyclists continued on to the nation's capital, by way Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Maryland.
"The north route is hills and chills," said Brown, who recalled the fear of going downhill at nearly 50 miles per hour with a shaky, nearly broken down bicycle before he completed his tour.
When cyclists finished their allotted mileage for the day, they made what they call "friendship visits," where they interact with people with disabilities. For instance, Brown played wheelchair basketball in Sacramento and he swam with the disabled in Lake Tahoe.
"The team was superhuman," Brown said. "We woke up by 5 a.m. and rode 80 miles per day on average, burning 10,000 calories. Then we made friendship visits at night."
Two years ago, Brown completed the 4,500 mile southern route in two months, withstanding such temperatures as 120 degree heat in Bull Head City, Ariz.
This year's event raised a combined $500,000 from 82 Pi Kappa Phi cyclists from all over the country doing a grand total of 12,000 miles. They stopped in 100 communities along the different routes.
Brown said he jumped at the chance to do Journey of Hope two years ago, because his fraternity did not have any volunteers taking part. He also said it was a ride dedicated to his little sister, Kalan, who has an extra "X" chromosome, a symptom of Down's syndrome.
Last year, Brown served as vice president of Pi Kappa Phi. This year, he is social chairman, and philanthropy chairman. He hopes to inspire others in his GSU fraternity to take part in the Journey of Hope.
"I saw how many lives we enriched and how excited these kids were and they looked forward to Journey of Hope coming through their city each year," Brown said.
He added, "We live in such a diverse country. The experience was very eye opening."