The Ability Experience
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The Ability Experience, formerly known as Push America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1977, is the official charity of Pi Kappa Phi. The charity serves as a way for undergraduate members of the fraternity to work with people with disabilities. Originally titled PUSH America, Push was originally an acronym for Play Units for the Severely Handicapped then it was changed to People Understanding the Severely Handicapped.
In 1976, Durward Owen, then Executive Director of Pi Kappa Phi, met with leaders in Pi Kappa Phi, with an idea to use the fraternity's undergraduate members for volunteer assistance. Thomas Sayre, a member of the fraternity, had designed a therapeutic play unit for children with severe disabilities, and collaborated with Owen to form such a philanthropic initiative.
The Ability Experience was founded in 1977 as a non-profit organization, and remains the exclusive philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi.
Three Areas of Focus
Push America's organization is based on three central areas of focus:
- Disability Awareness
Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Push America is currently a Better Business Bureau accredited charity.
In 1987, a Pi Kappa Phi alumnus named Bruce Rogers cycled across the country in an effort to bring more attention to the mission of Push America. Following his inaugural trip, a 21-person team led by Jim Karlovec began the Journey of Hope in 1988. Every summer since, members of Pi Kappa Phi have cycled from San Francisco, CA to Washington, DC as a way to raise awareness.
There are now three routes on the Journey of Hope: North, South, and Trans America. All three of the routes finish in Washington, DC. The North route leaves from San Francisco, CA, the South route from Los Angeles, CA, and the Trans route from Seattle, WA.
There is also a similar small-scale event known as Gear Up Florida, which began in 1997. Gear-Up Florida starts in Miami and finishes in Tallahassee.
Push America's construction effort was begun in 1989, when the first Give-A-Push Weekend was held at Raleigh, North Carolina. Undergraduates from all chapters may attend one of these two-day projects, where they work together to construct accessible amenities for facilities serving people with disabilities.
- http://www.pushamerica.org/whoweare/history.cfm[dead link]
- http://www.pushamerica.org/whoweare/mission.cfm[dead link]
- "Push America, Inc. - Charity - Local - Better Business Bureau". Bbb.org. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
- http://www.pushamerica.org/events/JOH/[dead link]
- http://www.pushamerica.org/events/guf ][dead link]
- http://www.pushamerica.org/events/gap/[dead link]