The jouney’s end just around the bend

Published 7:48 pm Friday, August 12, 2022

Today, Russ Oliver will ride the last 10 miles of a 3,735-mile bike “Journey of Hope” across America.

Oliver, a Pi Kappa Phi at Troy University, is riding in support of the national Pi Kappa Phi’s non-profit organization, The Ability Experience. Along the long way, the bikers stopped at different disability organizations where they had opportunities to interact and build friendships with people with disabilities.

Russ and the other bikers were in Maryland with two days left of biking, not including Washington, DC.

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“It is amazing being back in the East. I missed all of the lush green, and being in the Appalachians is great,” Russ said. “They truly are unique and its scenery that I could never get tired of.”

“Pretty crazy” is how he described the coming to the end of the long journey.

“It feels like both the longest and shortest summer of my life,” Russ said. It will be weird adjusting to waking up every morning and not getting on a bike. Since the last article, we have cycled through Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and now Maryland. Some of my favorite stops were places like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Cleveland, where I got to see the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame which I’ve always wanted to do.  However, there is another place that is lesser heard of that I loved and that was Grand Island, Nebraska. We had an off day there so this gave us a lot of time to get really close with some of the individuals with disabilities that we met. We only spent two days with Craig, Brad, Lynn, Tyler, Michael, and all the others, but, when we left it felt like we were saying goodbye to life-long friends.”

Russ said some of his favorite friendship visits were in Grand Island and that city is really what showed him what Journey of Hope is all about.

“Flash forward to today, we rode into Cumberland Maryland and gained a total of 9,000 feet in elevation,” Russ said. “It was all up and down though because elevation is low out here compared to the West. We had not climbed like that since Colorado. However, I would have to say today was one of my favorite rides because it was truly beautiful being deep in the Appalachian mountains. I can’t wait for these last two rides, but I think I’m gonna have to take them slow and savor them since this is the last few days I’ll have this experience.”

Of Note: Russ Oliver’s Journey of Hope will conclude today, Saturday, August 13,2022 with a 10-mile ride into the nation’s capital. His mom and dad, Russel and Lauren Oliver, will be in Washington DC to welcome him home. Russ will share the essence of the journey with The Messenger in a future edition.