The Push America Journey of Hope bicycle team pedals towards Tobosa Developmental Services to pay a visit Thursday afternoon on day 30 of their cross-country journey from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson Photo)
After biking 95 miles from Carrizozo in the triple digit heat, a team of cyclists pedaling to promote awareness for people with disabilities were welcomed in Roswell by the loud cheers and smiling faces of the Tobosa Developmental Services staff and clients.
Tobosa, a local company that offers support and services for individual and families affected by developmental disabilities, wildly applauded the 28 cyclists and seven crew members who visit Tobosa each year on their 4,000- mile cross-country journey from Seattle and San Francisco to Washington.
â€œHow do you thank these guys, you know?â€ Joe Madrid, Tobosa executive director, said.
â€œThese guys ride all the way across America trying to push issues having to do with people with different kinds of challenges, handicaps, whatever you want to call it. To just go across the entire United States on bicycles to make people more aware of whatâ€™s going on, what kind of issues are there, I think is just totally awesome.â€
The team, comprised of fraternity brothers from Pi Kappa Phi, stayed at Tobosa Thursday afternoon for refreshments and a â€œfriendship visitâ€ to mingle with Tobosa clients. They call their ride the Journey of Hope, which is a program of Push America, the national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi.
For the past 24 years, three groups of about 30 cyclists ride on either the north route, which goes through Utah, Colorado and Nebraska, Trans- America Route through Wyoming and Kansas, or the south route that goes through all the southern states, including New Mexico.
The three groups cross the finish line at the same time in D.C. This year they are slated to finish on Aug. 13. Paul Volcan, 25, the program manager for the south route group that stopped by Tobosa, says the team has made a pit stop at Tobosa 20 of the 24 years. Push America also raises money for Tobosa and similar groups across the nation.
They donated $750 to Tobosa last month, and have collectively raised $540,000 from the three cycling groups this year. Tobosa executive secretary Joan Blodgett said Tobosa is obviously always thrilled to receive donations and will likely spend the $750 on new exercise equipment. But what she appreciates the most is people taking the time to visit with Tobosa clients.
â€œNo, we donâ€™t get a lot of visitors,â€ she said.
â€œI like the idea of what theyâ€™re doing â€” promoting disabilities â€” and the fact that they’re very interested in the people we support here.â€ Some cyclists, like Graham McMillan, 19, who will be a sophomore at Texas Christian University, says the best part of the trek is meeting clients at Tobosa and similar places.
He says he aspires to one day open a center for people with disabilities. Jeffrey Brooks, 23, a recent graduate of Colorado State University, called the Journey for Hope a great opportunity to not only see the country, but to meet people from all over the world.