CCU grad pushes across Americaby Russell Alston
Friends and family tried to warn him.
Luke Maslow, a 21-year old 2013 Coastal Carolina communications alumnus, already knew it would have a profound effect of his life.
“It's crazy to think that before doing this, everyone was telling me that this was going to be a life-changing experience,” he says. “Well, it sure lived up to its expectations—it was an unbelievable experience that I will never forget.”
Maslow spent his summer biking 3,575 miles from Long Beach, Calif., to Washington D.C. for one of the largest fraternal fundraising and awareness events of its kind, the Journey of Hope.
The event raises more than $500,000 annually for Pi Kappa Phi’s nationally philanthropy, Push America. According to its website, Journey for Hope earned $519,893 this year and is on the way to its goal of $650,000. Pending a late $2,000 donation, Maslow’s contribution will be $7,670.
Accepting the challenge to spread awareness for people with disabilities came with the good, the bad and the delirious.
“Death Valley is one of the hottest places, and the team was still trying to get used to the heat,” says Maslow.
The team rode in temperatures that reached 100-degrees through the desert terrain for 85-miles, taking them more than 7 hours.
“Dehydration set in quickly,” he says, “and people began going a little delirious. Some guys started seeing things that were not there or screaming out 'Teresa,' the name of the little girl for whom we were riding, to keep them going. That was just a tough day for everyone.”
Things got a little better in another city. Before leaving Las Vegas, Maslow spent time at a Wet ‘n’ Wild waterpark with 13-year-old Jeremy, who suffers from nonverbal cerebral palsy.
“Jeremy was my buddy,” he says. “Just being able to spend some one-on-one time with a person living with a disability and seeing what they are capable of doing is definitely an eye-opening experience.”
A 100-mile ride from Las Vegas to Bullhead City, Ariz., presented another set of difficulties; from a headwind in 100-degree desert heat, to two flat tires within 10 miles of their next stop. This was compounded by “all the support vehicles running out of water, meaning we were all out of water,” for a 10-mile ride that took an hour. Once Maslow and company conquered those obstacles, the rest of their trip was filled with memorable moments. Lake Havasu, Ariz., was also particularly unforgettable, thanks to an outpouring of support.
“The community did a ride-a-long into the city with us, had a huge crowd welcoming us to the city and a police escort to our lodging,” says Maslow. “As we’re riding to lodging, cars were honking and cheering us on. It was a pretty cool experience, like we were celebrities.”
It was also in Lake Havasu that Maslow met a man named Clint, who he describes as instrumental in making it possible for people with disabilities to vote in Arizona.
A chorus of family members awaited Maslow in Washington D.C., including his parents and sister, an uncle and a cousin and aunts from both sides of his family. Some of Maslow’s brothers also made an appearance.
“Twelve of my fraternity brothers made a trip to D.C. as well, older brothers and younger brothers,” he says. “It goes to show you how strong the brotherhood of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity really is at Coastal.”
With all Maslow has accomplished in bringing awareness to people with disabilities, it should be no surprise that he displays humility in acknowledging those who made his summer adventure possible.
“Thank you to the Brothers of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, Brian Roessler, the Sisters of Sigma Sigma Sigma, the Sisters of Phi Sigma Sigma, Crafty Rooster, Conway Cleaners, Eta Pi-Pi Kappa Phi Alumni Chapter, The Chanticleer, Coastal Today Show, Martha Hunn, Doug Bell, the Sisters of Alpha Xi Delta, the Sisters of Alpha Delta Pi, friends, family, strangers, faculty and staff that supported me through this amazing journey. It’s because of people like yourselves that made this possible!”