Carmel grad Billy Cooke plans ride of his life
Next month, Carmel native and recent Purdue University graduate William Cooke will start the ride of his life. Journey of Hope, a 4200 mile bike ride, is a fundraiser for kids with disabilities that begins in Seattle, Washington, and ends in Washington D.C.
Cooke joined the Purdue fraternity Pi Kappa Phi his sophomore year, and he became involved in their philanthropy fundraisers to help disadvantaged kids. Previous to learning about the Journey of Hope fundraiser, Cooke was not a cyclist. However, his love for helping disabled kids has fueled his training.
“In high school I was part of Best Buddies, which is a program that helps kid with disabilities,” Cooke said. “I liked helping the kids. I got to Purdue and rushed Pi Kappa Phi my sophomore year. My neighbors had ridden in the Journey of Hope and they had a blast. I was coming into my senior year and I wanted to do something awesome and this was a great opportunity.”
Pi Kappa Phi is the only fraternity in the nation to support its own philanthropic organization. Their organization, The Ability Experience, formerly known as Push America, aims to help people with disabilities. Journey of Hope is their largest fundraiser, one that raises over 650,000 dollars for the cause.
There are 75 riders including Cooke, and they take three different routes across America stopping at Boys and Girls clubs, high schools, and other organizations with disabled kids along the way. Each day they ride from 5 a.m. to noon to get to their destination. Some rides last 60 miles, some last 100.
Once arrived, the riders will spend time with the kids and hang out, hoping to make them smile brighter for a day.
Cooke selected the route that takes him through Indianapolis. He says he hopes that when he rides through he can see his family briefly.
The riders will stay at the organizations they visit across the country, and will eat there as well. A van holding possessions, bike mechanical supplies and emergency service supplies will drive close to the riders in case of an emergency.
Even though he was not previously a cyclist, Cooke has always been a fan of the good workout and because of his desire to participate in Pi Kappa Phi’s philanthropic fundraiser before he graduates, he decided to buy a bike and start riding.
Cooke said that being a student at Purdue has especially helped him prepare how to go about fundraising.
“I think being a student at Purdue or college in general you have to learn to budget your time, you have to balance school work and social life. It has helped me manage how I fundraise and schedule my rides. I have also other riders at Purdue that without my fraternity I wouldn’t know about.”
The journey lasts through August, and Cooke will start his career in Agribusiness Management once he finishes the ride. Although many of the riders participate before the end of their senior year, Cooke is still excited.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” he said. “How many times can you ride your bike across the country? I will always have a special spot for kids with disabilities.”
By the numbers
75–riders, including Carmel’s Billy Cooke, will go on the Journey of Hope
4,200— miles of riding bike a bike from Seattle to D.C.
60 to 100—miles Cooke will ride at a time
Cooke has been physically preparing himself for a year, but he also set up a fundraising goal to financially assist Journey of Hope. A requirement of 5500 dollars must be raised for Cooke to participate in Journey of Hope. Anyone who wants to support his cause can visit: http://support.abilityexperience.org/site/TR/Events/General?px=1168298&pg=personal&fr_id=1530.
Further information about The Ability Experience, the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, or Journey of Hope can be reached through Cooke’s page as well. The fundraising site is secure, with the option of anonymous donations.