PENDLETON — Johnmichael Augustinovicz likes challenges.
He’ll face one of his biggest this summer when he sets out to ride his bicycle from the West Coast to the East Coast.
Augustinovicz, 22, of Pendleton is undertaking the ride with his Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brothers at Purdue University to raise money and awareness for children with disabilities.
The riders are part of The Ability Experience, Journey of Hope adventure taking place Friday, June 3, through Saturday, Aug. 12.
The Journey of Hope involves cycling almost 12,000 miles through 32 states, according to The Ability Experience website. Participants are all Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members from across the United States.
Augustinovicz has been thinking about joining the journey since he enrolled in college.
“Guys in our fraternity have been doing this for years, and it’s just been something I’ve wanted to do since I was a freshman,” he said.
Augustinovicz is a senior at Purdue University studying sales management. He’ll have just graduated college when he heads out on the journey. He’ll be expected to ride between 70 to 100 miles a day for 60 days in a row.
“I decided to do this last August, so ever since then I’ve been riding and training every day, trying to get my endurance up,” he said.
After the cyclists finish their daily treks, that’s when the real fun is expected to start.
The riders will visit with local groups that support people with disabilities.
The visits are what Augustinovicz is looking forward to the most, he said. He’s already part of a program at college where he visits with local high school students who have disabilities.
He helps teach the students simple life skills, such as counting coins and how to play board games, things he said most people take for granted.
Augustinovicz said he’s physically prepared to take on the journey, but his frat brothers have warned him there’s nothing he can do to prepare himself for the mental challenge he and the other riders will face.
Still, his mother, Susan Augustinovicz, said he’s ready for the adventure.
She was at first petrified to think of her son riding his bicycle cross country, but has since come to think the ride will be something her son will remember forever.
“After he started explaining to us what he was going to be doing on the journey, it kind of hit my heart that this was a really good thing,” she said.
Riders begin their journey at one of three locations — San Francisco, Los Angeles or Seattle — and finish together in Washington, D.C.
Augustinovicz has not been told yet where he’ll begin his ride — that’s something he’ll find out in a few weeks.
Regardless, he said he’s looking forward to what the journey has to offer.
He’s looking forward to seeing the countryside as well as pushing himself through mountainous terrain; he’s also anticipating making new friends who have a common goal to bring awareness to a good cause.
The hope is to spread a message of acceptance and understanding for people with disabilities. It’s something Augustinovicz feels passionately about.
The national fraternity is trying to raise an estimated $650,000 through the Journey of Hope. Each rider is expected to raise $5,000 or more in donations to help pay for the trip and support the cause.
Anyone wishing to help support Augustinovicz, who has set a goal of $7,000, can do so at www.classy.org/fundraise?fcid=764134 or visit theabilityexperience.org and go to the events tab, click on Journey of Hope, then scroll down to the Journey of Hope 2017 roster, where riders are listed in alphabetical order by first name.