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UMass Fraternity all geared up for third Pedal for Push campaign

Pi Kappa Phi President Kurt Chamberlin wasn’t biking on Monday to try and get across campus.

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Rather, he was helping in his fraternity’s effort to raise $3,000 for the disabled.

For the third straight semester of hosting the week-long Pedal for Push campaign, which began Monday, Pi Kappa Phi is pedaling 2,400 miles on stationary bikes to raise money on behalf of people with disabilities and promote awareness of their charity work both on and off campus.

About $670 had been raised as of Tuesday, fraternity member Jim McCarthy said, which is $270 more than last year’s total.

“And that’s just with two days,” McCarthy said. “We like to set the bar high and see if we can reach it.”

Chamberlin said people with disabilities are “the only minority group anyone can become a part of at any time.”

Disabilities, he added, don’t always have to be physical, and can include learning and mental disabilities.

“I think it’s a good way to spread awareness as well as fundraising,” Chamberlin, a senior marketing major, said of the Pedal for Push campaign. “It has a good message.”

At least three members of the fraternity will ride the bikes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday in 30-minute shifts. The fraternity will also be giving away prizes, hosting a raffle and answering questions about their goals to assist the handicapped.

“We were able to collaborate with the brothers so that the bikes were ongoing,” said member Jim McCarthy, who is in charge of advertising for the event.

Chamberlin said the money raised during Pedal for Push week “provides opportunities to run campaigns,” such as Spread the Word to End the Word, a campaign to end the use of the “r-word,” according to its website.

Raised funds also give the fraternity “money to buy supplies to build accessible ramps and accessible playgrounds for kids or adults with physical disabilities,” Chamberlin said.

McCarthy, a junior mechanical engineering student, said that donators will see the direct difference their dollars make. He gave handicap accessible ramps as an example.

UMass’ Pi Kappa Phi chapter is participating as part of Pi Kappa Phi’s larger fundraising programs across the nation. This year’s national Push America fundraising events are “Gear Up Florida,” an 800 mile bike race throughout the state of Florida that also raises money for the disabled, and “Journey of Hope,” a 3,000-mile bike ride across the United States.

Fraternity member Sahil Tembulkar, a junior neuroscience major, said “Pedal for Push Week is supposed to be a small representation of the bigger event in Florida and the other work our fraternity does.”

“Gear Up Florida” is organized by Pi Kappa Phi brothers nationwide. The UMass chapter will be sending two members – Zach Broughton and Taha Saifullah – to the event this year in an effort to spread their fraternity’s work and message beyond the University campus.

The brothers of Pi Kappa Phi have been committed to assisting the handicapped since the 54- member fraternity came to UMass in six years ago. The fraternity is the only one on campus with its own non-profit organization.

Pi Kappa Phi will be organizing additional future fundraising events geared to assist the disable and improve their community. Last spring, fraternity members rode stationary bikes for 30 consecutive hours in another program.

Chamberlin said next semester’s Pedal for Push might see a dodgeball game, food and live music in order to offer “different ways of donating.”

“We hope to kind of grow in size each time we participate,” he said.

Brian Bevilacqua can be reached at bbevilac@student.umass.edu.

Chelsie Field can be reached at cfield@student.umass.edu.

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