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Braxten Martin with the bike he will ride from Seattle, Washington, to Washington, D.C. this summer

Braxten Martin with the bike he will ride from Seattle, Washington, to Washington, D.C. this summer

News | StudentsMay 23, 2024

UAFS Student to Ride Cross-Country for The Ability Experience

Written By: Ian Silvester

When most college-age students return home, pick up a job, or take a class or two during the summer break, University of Arkansas – Fort Smith junior Braxten Martin will ride a bike across the country.

The UAFS Pi Kappa Phi philanthropy chair will head to Seattle, Washington, shortly after the Memorial Day holiday for a four-day information session before embarking on a 4,315-mile journey to the Capitol Lawn in Washington, D.C. Braxten will complete the feat as part of the Pi Kapp national philanthropy, The Ability Experience.

Braxten is raising money as part of the campaign’s overall $600,000 goal. All proceeds go to The Ability Experience, which helps those with mental and physical disabilities. The goal is not to let labels define people and create a “more inclusive community to life every single day.” Along the way, Braxten and his fellow Pi Kapp brothers will stop at partner organizations to meet and connect with centers helping those with disabilities. They will “spread awareness and celebrate the abilities of all people” at each stop.

Through The Ability Experience, Braxten will participate in a cross-country cycling event called the Journey of Hope. He plans to travel the TransAmerica route, which will involve crossing 14 states over the course of nearly 70 days. Starting on June 5, he will travel an average of 75 miles per day for roughly the next two months. Braxten and the TransAmerica route team will complete 18 days of one hundred- or more-mile rides. The longest stretch will be 135 miles upon arrival in Jackson, Wyoming, after departing from West Yellowstone, Montana.

Braxten first heard about the ride after talking to the Pi Kapp national philanthropy chair. He initially suggested Braxten sign up for Gear Up Florida, a winding 950-mile route around Florida starting in Miami and ending in Tallahassee. However, according to Braxten, he wanted to make an even more significant impact.

“I thought I might as well go big if I’m going to do it,” he said.

Braxten will become the first brother from Iota Mu, the UAFS Pi Kapp chapter, to participate in the Journey of Hope. He said he is excited about what this means for the future brothers of the Iota Mu chapter.

“I hope this inspires brothers to try a little harder in the things they do in their day-to-day life, and when they feel like giving up, dig down deeper and keep going at it,” Braxten shared.

Not only will Braxten complete the Journey of Hope, which is exclusive to past and present brothers of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity nationwide, but he will also complete an online summer psychology course and celebrate his 21st birthday.

Braxten joked that he doesn’t foresee any issue taking the summer class other than if his Wi-Fi goes out. With built-in days off to sightsee, rest and recover, and visit partner ability centers, Braxten noted he would have plenty of time to work on assignments.

On June 28, Braxten celebrates the milestone birthday with a 125-mile ride from Casper, WY, to Wheatland, WY. He laughed, saying there wouldn’t be much time to celebrate because his team would set off on another 75 miles the next day, with a destination of Cheyenne, WY.

Braxten admits he hasn’t ridden a bike much since he was a kid but has been practicing on a stationary bike at his UAFS apartment and riding a bike sent to him by Pi Kapp nationals around campus. He said his biggest worry right now is “how big the hills are going to be.”

As he looks forward to the end of his cross-country ride, Braxten is excited about the memories, smiles, and connections he will make. He’s already sorry to face the end of the Journey of Hope ride.

You can follow Braxten’s trip and help him meet his fundraising goal of $7,500 by visiting his rider profile page: Here, you can share well wishes, track his progress, and learn more about the Journey of Hope and The Ability Experience.

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  • RSO
  • Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity

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