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UNT student to lead group on cross-country journey to benefit charity

Twenty-six cyclists from around the nation will trek 3,720 miles across the country over the course of three months this summer.

One University of North Texas student will lead them.

Daniel Hansbury, a 22-year-old senior studying international studies, bought his bike three years ago to eventually participate in the Journey of Hope. The Ability Experience, a nonprofit associated with Pi Kappa Phi, organizes the fundraiser each summer.

Hansbury is charged with leading his crew and fellow fraternity brothers from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

More than 100 Pi Kappa Phi members are expected to participate. Each has a goal to raise $5,000. They will divide the group into three routes during the campaign, cycling 80 to 100 miles each day and visiting select nonprofits along the way. The brothers will deliver checks to the nonprofits, which all help people with disabilities.

“I had never really been on a big ride before then, and now I love it,” said Hansbury, who first participated as a cyclist in the Journey of Hope last year. His role this year is to ensure all goes according to plan. He'll organize events with donation recipients this year as crew chief of the north route.

Hansbury joined Pi Kappa Phi for its philanthropic efforts supporting people with disabilities. Since then, he’s gotten serious about cycling after frequenting local events like Tuesday Bike Night, a weekly group ride around Denton, and getting support from his fraternity brothers.

His motivation stems from his older brother, Billy, 26, who has Down syndrome.

Growing up, Hansbury volunteered in several Special Olympics events and witnessed Billy shatter barriers. Billy’s tennis skills took him as far as Shanghai in 2007, when he and 62 fellow Texas athletes were part of a 400-member U.S. team in the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

“[Billy] taught me how to accept and be patient with people,” Daniel said. “It’s been really amazing to see my brother go to great heights.”

Fellow Pi Kappa Phi member Travis Green, a UNT senior studying marketing, still remembers the campers' wide smiles when he volunteered for Build America last summer. Build America is another Ability Experience program in which Pi Kappa Phi members travel to summer camps nationwide and construct accessibility fixtures like wheelchair ramps.

Volunteers with Build America also spend time socializing with campers. Green said he would purposefully wear a tacky Hawaiian shirt during the get-togethers. One of the campers had a tacky Hawaiian shirt, too, and they bonded over their fashion choices.

That same spirit has driven Daniel Hansbury in the time Green has known him, he believes, and propels the mission of Pi Kappa Phi not being “the frat you see in movies.”

“We want to better ourselves while bettering others,” Green said about The Ability Experience’s goal. “Not only do these fundraisers help us become better men, [they] help others and bring smiles across their faces.”

In addition to his first Journey of Hope ride last year, Hansbury participated in the Build America project two years ago. He’s raised nearly $10,000 between all of his philanthropic work through The Ability Experience.

“His dedication is insane,” Green said of Hansbury. “What I learned is that I loved nothing more than seeing those campers smile. That’s where I think Daniel’s fire comes from, when he sees his brother smile.”

Visit www.abilityexperience.org to learn more about the fundraisers and the nonprofit’s mission.

MATT PAYNE can be reached at 940-566-6845.

Featured image: Daniel Hansbury, a senior at the University of North Texas, will help lead a team of cyclists this summer on a ride from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. The ride, dubbed the Journey of Hope, is with The Ability Experience, a nonprofit that raises money for people with disabilities.

Jeff Woo/DRC