Members of the TransAmerica team are greeted by Gilbert, 18, who has welcomed the cycling team to Enumclaw’s Ashley House for the last seven years. Ray Miller-Still photo.

Members of the TransAmerica team are greeted by Gilbert, 18, who has welcomed the cycling team to Enumclaw’s Ashley House for the last seven years. Ray Miller-Still photo.

Cross-country cyclists make first stop in Enumclaw

Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members from all around the country stopped at Ashley House on their first stop on the Journey of Hope tour.

Earlier this month, dozens of collegiate members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity biked to Enumclaw as their first stop in a trans-country ride.

The Journey of Hope, organized by the non-profit Ability Experience, has taken fraternity members from either Seattle, San Francisco or Los Angeles to Washington D.C. every year for the past three decades.

The Seattle group, called the TransAmerica team, stopped at Enumclaw’s Ashley House on June 6 for a meal and a chance to visit with its residents, their family members and employees. This is the seventh year the TransAmerica team has stopped at this Ashley House.

Ashley House, a state-wide non-profit, are homes for medically fragile children that need constant complex medical care. Living at an Ashley House gives families the time required to be able to adjust and prepare for their child’s needs when their child comes home.

“We are grateful for what you have done and what you are going to be doing, having raised all that money and raising awareness about people with disabilities,” said Ashley House Executive Director Ken Maaz. “We admire you, and we’re always glad to have you with us.”

Each member of this year’s TransAmerica team, consisting of some three-dozen cyclists of various experience levels, have their own reasons for completing their 4,370-mile bike ride.

“My sister was born with a rare disability called microcephaly, which basically means she was born with her skull was already fused, no soft spot,” said Chris Tosto, this year’s historian on the trip. “I’ve grown up my whole life coming to places like these with her and my mom.”

Tosto said it feels amazing to know his teammates come from colleges all over the country to do this ride.

“I’ve heard a lot of their stories, and a lot of us joined this particular fraternity just for this trip and this philanthropy, just because it’s nothing any other fraternity is able to offer,” he added.

All Journey of Hope cyclists are required to raise $5,500 to donate to various charities across the country. This year, cyclists raised more than $650,000, and the Ability Experience has raised more than $16 million in its 41-year history.

To learn more about The Ability Experience, the Journey of Hope or various cyclists, visit http://www.abilityexperience.org.

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