Pi Kappa Phi owns and operates a national philanthropy called The Ability Experience (formally known as Push America).
The Ability Experience is a non-profit organization that was founded by members of Pi Kappa Phi in 1977. It is the exclusive service learning project of the fraternity, aiming to serve people with disabilities and instill lifelong service in all members of Pi Kappa Phi. Initially begun as a project to build therapeutic play units for children with disabilities, the organization has become synonymous with fundraising, service and awareness for people with any type or degree of disability.
Since its conception, the Ability Experience has grown to include a number of different events across the nation. These include the Journey of Hope – a cross country bike ride, and Build America – a program aimed at building facilities for people with physical disabilities. Through these events as well as the work of individual chapters, The Ability Experience has raised more than $8 million in support of people with disabilities.
The Omega chapter is proud of our great involvement in the Ability Experience. Throughout the year we host a number of events aimed at helping people with disabilities. These events include Arctoberfest, David Feltner Memorial Bike-a-Thon, War of Roses, Lafayette Jefferson High School special needs classes visitation, Second Chance Pi Kapp/Best Buddy prom, Pi Kapp 100 and Journey of Hope.
Because of its commitment to the Ability Experience, the chapter received the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Star of Hope Award, recognizing it as the top chapter nationally in overall contributions to the national philanthropy. It was the third time in the last 10 years the chapter has been so recognized nationally.
Arctoberfest is an annual Halloween costume party held for the local Arc of Tippecanoe, an organization that helps people over the age of 18 with physical and mental disabilities. The event is includes games, snacks and costume competitions.
The annual David R. Feltner Memorial Bike-A-Thon is a 72-hour event held each Homecoming week in memory of David Feltner (1988-2011). The original Bike-A-Thon was held to raise enough money to purchase a special needs dog to assist him with balance and emergency needs. David rode last five minutes of the inaugural event in April 2011. Tragically, David died three months after the first event. Since that time, his parents or members of Feltner’s pledge class ride the last five minutes of the annual event during Homecoming week.
Many sororities on campus also participate in Bike-A-Thon every year, as the event kicks off with a race to see which sorority can pedal the farthest in a set amount of time. In 2019, the ride raised more than $7.500 and participants included chapter alumni and a campus administrator. More than 200 people rode in 2019 for 300 man hours on bikes.
An abbreviated version of the 10th Annual David Feltner Memorial Bike-a-Thon was held in the fall 2021 despite all the challenges of Covid-19.
To get any fraternity event planned – including recruitment, initiation and even any gathering of chapter members – is at least a three-week long process through several levels of approval. The Purdue oversight to make sure that detailed precautions are in place to avoid undue risk of spreading the virus. The chapter was limited to three 12-hour periods of riding in late November and limited number of chapter members could gather at the site near the Purdue belltower and no sorority competition could occur. Furthermore, riders and table volunteers had to wear protective masks and had to wipe down the bikes between riders.
The chapter was able to broadcast on Facebook Live during the noon hour on the second day, Nov. 20. The hour-long broadcast was seen by 343 people as Declan Kramper (Omega 2151) served as host.
The annual event is held in memory of Feltner (Omega 1738) who died in 2011. Feltner was very involved in the chapter’s Ability Experience programming and was one of the first group to visit with the special needs classes at Lafayette Jefferson High School. He had hoped to be an Omega representative in the 2010 Journey of Hope, but his cancer treatments prevented that.
Since that time, the chapter has conducted the annual event in his name raising money and awareness for people with disabilities in partnership with The Ability Experience. In previous years, the chapter rode 72 straight hours leading up to the annual homecoming football game, which did not occur in 2020.
War of Roses
The annual War of Roses events include empathy training, disabilities races and the capstone event, a talent show in Purdue’s Loeb Playhouse. Most of the Purdue sororities participate alongside chapter members each spring.
Pi Kappa Phi crowned its 2021 Rose Queen at the conclusion of the annual War of Roses competition on April 7 – Haley Aiken of Phi Mu.
Georgia Boyd of Phi Rho was first runner up and Gracie O’Bryan of Zeta Tau Alpha was the second.
The Annual War of Roses competition started with a trivia contest on March 24 with Phi Mu as the winner. Pie a Pi Kapp, whereby the 12 competing sororities donated money to throw various concoctions into the face of a fraternity member, was conducted on March 30 with Zeta Tau Alpha contributing the most money. Phi Mu was second and Phi Rho was third.
Delta Zeta won the sheet sign event with Phi Mu taking second and Phi Rho third.
Phi Mu won the April 7 talent show followed by Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Gamma.
Pi Kappa Phi would like to thank all the sororities that participated over the three-week event! Participants included:
Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, Gamma Phi Beta, Phi Rho, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Xi Delta, Delta Gamma, Zeta Tau Alpha, Phi Mu, Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta and Kappa Delta
Pi Kappa Phi-Omega maintains and active relationship with the special needs classrooms of Lafayette Jefferson High School. The chapter sends brothers every day to these classrooms to play games and help tutor local kids with mental disabilities.
Second Chance Pi Kapp/Best Buddies Prom
Chapter members team up with Best Buddies-Purdue to host special needs adults who did not get the opportunity to attend a high school prom.
Pi Kapp 100
Established in 1999, each spring chapter members ride 100 kilometers from Zionsville to the Purdue campus raising funds and awareness for people with disabilities. More than two dozen riders participate each year. Riders have included alumni and one mom thus far. Each rider and crew member commit to raising a certain amount of money for the chapter’s annual Ability Experience fund-raising.
The 2020 Pi Kapp 100 was canceled due to fact that Purdue canceled all in-person classes during the spring semester.
Journey of Hope
The Journey of Hope is a cross country bike ride to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities. JOH is undertaken by Pi Kapps from chapters across the nation, with Omega as one of the leading participants. In each of the last three years, the chapter has had 10 or more JOH team members, the first such accomplishment in history. At least another nine will participate in 2018, too. The chapter’s first rider was in 1991 – Brian Carlson. Thus far, we have had 82 participants in the summer-long event. In 2017, it became the first chapter to ever have 10 or more Journey of Hope participants for three years in a row. In 2019, there were six riders. We had seven riders scheduled for 2020 – Calvin Whetstone, Grant Gauthier, Jack Russell, Erik Wilson, Jack Cleary, Max Isch and Harrison Field – but the event was canceled due to the pandemic. In 2021, the chapter will have at least two members on the Journey of Hope – Calvin Whetstone and Rohit Naidu.