The Early Years
I was born and raised in the Midwestern state of Kansas. While my early years were spent in the cities of Salina and Goddard, my family settled in Lawrence when I was in first grade. So Lawrence soon became home to me, and has remained that way ever since.
Off to University
As you may know, Lawrence Kansas is home of the University of Kansas, otherwise known as KU. When graduating high school, I did what many students from college towns do... Looked for another University far away! I settled on the University of Missouri Rolla, and in 2000 started a degree there in computer science. With about a four hour drive from home, Rolla was far enough away that I really felt like it was something new, and yet close enough that I could come home on any given weekend. It was there that I became a member of Pi Kappa Phi, and was introduced to Push America.
An Introduction to Push America
My fraternity brother Mike Johnson (known around the house as GC), thought it would be good for the new guys to get to know our national philanthropy, and organized a trip to Manhattan, Kansas, Home of K-State University, to help build a playground for children with disabilities. It was amazing to see how many guys had traveled much farther just for this one weekend, and it was then that I realized Push America was something big.
The Journey of Hope 2002
Like most people who grew up in Lawrence, I found myself missing it, and soon transferred back to finish my undergraduate degree at KU. But I never stopped thinking about Push America, and the work it was doing, so in the summer of 2002 I took part in another of its events known as the Journey of Hope. I was to be a part of a team responsible for the safety of about 30 cyclists as they made their way from San Francisco to Washington DC raising money and awareness for people with disabilities. Along the way we stopped at summer camps, group homes, and many other organizations serving people with disabilities. At each stop, we would tell our stories, and listen to theirs, bringing smiles to everyone we met. It was a difficult journey, but after about 4000 Miles, and two months, it was all over as we rolled into the steps of DC.
Working at Camp Sunnyside
I learned a lot about myself that summer, but didn’t feel I had learned enough. Along the way, we had met some amazing people, and it made me want to be a part of that world. I wanted to share in some of the traditions that we saw along the way, so the next summer I headed back to my favorite stop along the way, Easter Seals Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines, Iowa, to work a summer as a camp counselor. It was probably the most stressful summer of my life, but I loved it. I worked with an amazing staff that came from all corners of the world. It was there where I met my wife, Laura, who was working there as a fellow counselor.
Travels with my Wife
Since that time, I graduated from KU with a degree in Secondary Mathematics Education, but decided to directly into the graduate program in Mathematics instead of starting my career teaching. After a few more years at KU, my wife and I moved to Europe, and have both just completed our Masters Degrees at two different Universities in two different countries. I was in Bonn, Germany, while she was studying in Colchester, England. It was this major step in life that made us realize that since camp, we hadn’t done anything similarly life changing. For that reason, Laura is going to spend another summer working at Camp Sunnyside, and I have decided to again take part in the Journey of Hope. (For those of you who are wondering, the Journey of Hope will be stopping at Camp Sunnyside again this summer, and we happen to be there right around the time of our 5th wedding anniversary.)
Journey of Hope 2010
With your help, I will be cycling those 4000 Miles from San Francisco to Washington DC in the summer of 2010. On an average day we’ll cycle 75 miles, but our journey doesn’t stop there. After each ride, we’ll be dancing, swimming, or singing at a friendship visit with a local group that supports people with disabilities. You might also find us putting on puppet shows to educate children about the abilities of people with disabilities. Along the way, many of our meals will be sponsored by local groups, and we’ll be throwing down sleeping bags in School Gymnasiums, YMCA’s, and even a storm shelter or two. This means that while it does cost a fair amount of money to get three teams of 35 cyclists across the US, most of the money we raise will go directly to fund the many other programs Push America offers, benefiting people with disabilities all over the country.
I Need Your Help
I’ve personally pledged to raise $8000 this year to contribute to the over $500,000 that the Journey of Hope raises annually. I can only do it however with support from you! So please consider supporting my team by making a donation to Push America. You can do so by clicking the link on the top right hand side of this page. Keep in mind that all donations over $25 within the United States are tax deductible. Even if you don’t have the means to make a donation now, you can still help us by forwarding this page on to someone who can.