Fraternity members hit the road to raise funds for self-operated nonprofit
OU greek brothers took their philanthropy to the next level this summer in an event of extreme volunteerism.
Every summer, Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members commit to work with Push America, the fraternity’s self-operated, nonprofit organization.
For some, the involvement involves 4,000 miles of bicycle riding, the construction of playgrounds and nature paths or the donation of grants to aid people with disabilities.
Pi Kappa Phi owns and operates the nonprofit organization nationally, rather than participating through local nonprofits.
Push America has raised and donated more than $15 million to benefit people with disabilities and has put in more than 600,000 volunteer hours for more than 100 facilities, according to the organization’s website.
The main focus of Push America is to make an impact on members of the community with disabilities using construction and cycling to implement each program. Various grants are offered to assist those with disabilities in purchasing equipment needed to live a normal life.
Geophysics sophomore Dan Salamander participated in Build America. Salamander was part of a seven-week construction crew that biked from Colorado to Washington, D.C., making eight stops along the way to improve campsites.
“It was the greatest time of my life,” international business sophomore Tim Johnson said.
At each stop the crew spent five days working to build disability-accessible playgrounds, nature paths and various other needs for the camps.
Getting to know the children made the work worth while, Salamander said.
“After the trip, I decided the most meaningful thing you can do with your life is to help others directly,” Salamander said.
Gear Up Florida is another summer opportunity for members of Pi Kappa Phi. Participants bicycle 75 to 90 miles per day to various destinations in Florida, and at each stop they spend time with local individuals in need of disability-friendly equipment. They also give grants to those in need.
Grant money is collected from the money raised to by each participant to take the trip.
“It’s alarming to find the lack of support from the state,” letters major junior Joe Sangirardi said. “Funds are cut, and it becomes more and more difficult every year; they come to depend on us.”
Sangirardi said he plans to stay involved as an alumnus.
He was inspired by an alumnus who accompanied the Gear-up Florida group. Despite the fact that the 30-year-old alumnus was not in shape for the ride, he continued to push, Sangirardi said.
The recipients of Pi Kappa Phi’s efforts were beyond thankful, Sangirardi said. “We have developed a sense of loyalty and trust built up through the organization. We intrinsically help one another.”