By Mitch Kaskie
As Rockhurst High School graduate and Prairie Village native Jim Brazeal went through the fraternity rush process at Texas Christian University last fall, something captured his interest while talking with a member of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
The member, who also ended up being the rush chair, told him about his experiences on the ‘Journey of Hope’, Pi Kappa Phi’s cross country bike ride dedicated to helping people with disabilities. Brazeal, whose younger sister was born with chromosome 18p deletion — a minor form of down syndrome — immediately knew this was something he wanted to be a part of.
“I’ve always been close to people with disabilities,” Brazeal said. “So I know the impact that people who help them can have on their lives.”
So, the day he signed his bid to Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, he also signed up for the 3600 mile, 67 day bike ride which would take him from San Francisco to Washington D.C.
Now, months later, Brazeal is finally in San Francisco where he will train for four days with his team before they leave this Sunday, June 1.
During the 67 days on the road, Brazeal and his team will make 61 “friendship visits” at centers for disabilities. During these visits they will engage in different activities, whether it be simply eating with them or playing basketball. Brazeal is looking forward to making an impact on the people he comes in contact with, but also to learning a little about himself too.
“When you’re working with people with disabilities you have to be really patient with them sometimes,” Brazeal said. “And they really push you outside of your comfort zone with how they may not have a sense of social norms.”
But helping other people won’t be the only challenge on this quest. Brazeal will be waking up around 6 a.m. and biking an average of 75 miles every day. Somedays the team will be riding as much as 100 miles a day, other days only be around 40.
“Honestly I think the biggest thing is being able to understand why you’re on the bike, and stick through it and push through the hard days,” Brazeal said. “Everyone has their bad days of riding and everything so you kinda have to rely on your team to get you through that.”
Overall, Brazeal is excited and ready for the journey which will take him through 13 states and conclude in the nation’s capital on August 2.
“I think it’s going to be an incredibly eye opening experience to be able to see the entire country and work with people that push me outside of my comfort zone,” Brazeal said.