865 miles. Two weeks. One bike.
He zips up his biking suit and sets out with a friend to haul his way up the Lawrence hills. They would ride seventy miles that day, the most he ever had. But the miles would far surpass that in just a few short weeks. He was in luck to have an experienced friend riding at his side to train for the future trek.
East alumni and current junior at the University of Kansas, Jon Moore, volunteered to take part in Gear Up Florida, beginning on May 15.
Biking from Miami to Tallahassee in two weeks, the average day consists of anywhere between 60 to 105 miles. After full days of nothing but pedaling, many nights will be spent in the basement of churches and community centers, sleeping on giant gymnastics mats with hundreds of strangers facing the same physical challenge as Moore.
This bike ride raises money for the The Ability Experience, a foundation dedicated to raising money for kids, teens and adults with both mental and physical disabilities. Through this bike ride alone, the foundation aims to raise around $80,000. From family and friends support, Moore’s contribution is $2,500 for his ride.
Prior to coming to KU and joining Phi Kappa Phi, Moore hadn’t done much work with disabled people. Since joining, however, he has found much interest in it through an organization called Cottonwood. Whether it be hanging out with the residents, hosting a dinner for them or going out to bowl he is glad to have found his niche.
“They are the happiest and best people in the world. I love being around them,” Moore said. “This was my opportunity to do something beyond the everyday thing for my fraternity and for a good cause.”
Phi Kappa Phi’s emphasis on “doing a lot for the chapter” sets a positive precedent for the fraternity brothers to be social and friendly, work for good grades and go beyond the everyday actions. This standard along with the work they do with Cottonwood has since broadened Moore’s circle and inspired him to take part in helping raise money for a cause. Every year at least one Phi Kappa Phi from KU enters this incredible ride. This year he will be the sole representative KU, although when he arrives he will be meeting up with members from his national fraternity.
“I’m just ready to do it at this point,” Moore said. “I signed up in July of 2015, so the build up has been intense.”
Before this opportunity presented itself to Moore, he was not much of a biker; in fact he didn’t even own a bike. After he was accepted through the long application process to this ride, Moore asked to borrow a bike from a familiar face at Shawnee Mission East, and close family friend to the Moore’s, the Foley’s.
He had never biked more than about seven miles before accepting the Foley’s bike offering. But now, after one year of training 20-30 miles a day, about five days a week, Moore’s practice has pushed his ability to ride beyond what he thought he would ever do. And his efforts have not gone unnoticed by family and friends.
“I’m extremely impressed that he decided to take this on because he’s always been athletic, but never a biker,” said junior at East and sister of Moore, Camille Moore.
With the help and support of Phi Kappa Phi members, family and previous participants, Moore’s eagerness to go trumps the nervousness at the length of ride. Soon to be pedaling through the sweltering Florida heat, the physical challenge Moore is undertaking is just about as big as the cause he’s fighting for.