As this story is being written, accounting major Andrew Tielking is in Wyoming headed to Washington D.C. Carrying him through the sites of nature, bumpy terrain, and the long journey ahead are his bike and motivation.
Biking across the country sounds a little crazy. But, what’s not crazy is why Tielking is doing it. The reason is inspiring. He is a participant in Journey of Hope that benefits The Ability Experience, a philanthropic initiative of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.
It’s the one philanthropy owned solely by a fraternity across the nation.
The Ability Experience raises money and awareness for people with disabilities, which goes directly to organizations whose mission is to improve people’s lives with disabilities. Tielking and several of his fraternity brothers started biking in Seattle, Washington and will finish their trip in Washington, D.C.
“There’s a lot of factors that are motivating during the ride because not only is it physically taxing, it’s more so a mental battle, in my opinion, between giving up or telling yourself you’re going to make it to the end of a 100-mile ride. The most important motivators start with are the people I have met and will meet along the way that have disabilities, that wake up every day and don’t complain, live their lives with a smile and love in their hearts without discrimination. It is a blessing to be able to spend a few hours with them and enjoy laughs and interests is a huge motivating factor. Second, it would have to be the guys around always pushing to be better. It’s motivating to be surrounded by others who want to achieve greatness and set you up for greatness. Last but not least, it’s my loved ones back home who talk to me as much as they can, giving me unconditional love and support that motivates me,” he said.
He learned about the race last year and signed up to participate alongside Neil Jones. However, Tielking tore his ACL and meniscus and underwent knee surgery.
“I focused hard on recovery and decided to sign up again, and here I am,” the Pi Kappa Phi stated.
Aside from Tielking being a big supporter of the Ability Experience, his ride is personal. The St. Paul, Indiana native has family members with Down Syndrome and wants everyone to know that disability doesn’t mean inability.
“When this is over, I will be proud of the obvious accomplishment of riding a bike across the country. But, most importantly, [I’m proud of] the man I will become along the way. I’m excited to see how this affects me for years to come.
So far, the cyclists have seen the Space Needle, and Mount Reynear, traveled the rolling farmlands, and the windy beaches of Idaho, stood on top of the Teton Mountains, and rode through four states.
“The scenery is nothing short of gorgeous,” he said.
Tielking will travel through 13 states; the remaining stops include Colorado, Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia. But, what he’s looking forward to most is July 25, as the cyclists will stop in the 812, Terre Haute, Indiana.
“I would absolutely love to see everyone who has supported me along the way. At arrival, it would be electric to ride in and see the people who have supported me cheering me on every day,” he said.
Before his pitstop in Washington D.C. on August 12, his goal is to fundraise $7,500. He is currently at $3,500. If you’d like to donate, click the link below.