Truckee ‘boys’ on a Journey of Hope

Amy Edgett
Sierra Sun
Photo courtesy Emily KashtanMark (left) and Harris Kashtan take a break during the Journey of Hope ride. Harris rode as far as Markleville, saying goodbye to brother Mark, who continued across the country. Harris rode on JOH south route in 2007 and rode the "Gear Up Florida," another fundraising bike ride from Miami to Tallahassee in May 2009.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Our lives should be lived as a journey of hope. Truckee and#8220;boysand#8221; Harris and Mark Kashtan are taking the adage to a new level, riding their bicycles across America on a Journey of Hope, the largest fraternal fundraising campaign to raise awareness, acceptance and understanding for individuals with disabilities.

and#8220;When Harris told me he was going to ride across the states I shivered,and#8221; said Emilie Kashtan, an operating room nurse and perhaps more importantly, Harris and Mark’s mom. and#8220;I worked with a physician who was killed on a bike near the Grand Canyon.and#8221;

As all mothers must, Emilie Kashtan had to learn a lesson: That number one son Harris was a capable young man, ready to make his own decisions. and#8220;We guide them as best we can, they don’t come with a manual,and#8221; said Emilie, of the arduous yet much-loved job of parenthood. She and her husband raised the two boys in Truckee and Sacramento, with summers spent in the Truckee Donner Parks and Recreation program, as well as hiking and camping in the Sierras.

When they left the nest, both boys entered UC Berkeley, for a quality education and relative proximity to Truckee and the mountains.

Harris graduated in 2008, as a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, which has a huge philanthropic arm dedicated to building a future and serving people. It was then he decided to test his wings and dedicate himself to the cross-country journey in service to the disabled.

The nationwide ride begins with fundraising. Each participant raises funds, to be granted at centers along the route, with Harris chipping in $5,000 in 2008.

This year, number-two son Mark, a May 2009 UC Berkeley grad, began the Journey of Hope with a seven-day intensive training period that covered bike safety and pacing. Three groups make the trip, two from San Francisco and one from Seattle, riding 50-100 miles each day, with online updates at They young men spend after-ride hours in a game of wheelchair basketball or educating others about people with disabilities. They sleep on church floors, in high school gyms and sometimes under the stars. Food is donated by local service organizations and individuals. Hot dogs are a staple on the road, a fast, easy and affordable meal for those providing.

A more lavish dinner celebration is planned in Washington, DC. when the three groups will reconnoiter with each other, family and friends. Proud mother Emilie Kashtan plans to be on hand.

and#8220;You decide what you want to do to make you happy, you go for it and you will succeed.and#8221;

and#8212;Emilie Kashtan

and#8226; Journey of Hope covers 32 different states, cycling more than 12,000 miles combined

and#8226; Solely comprised of members of Pi Kappa Phi

and#8226; Inaugural team of 21 team members raised $20,000

and#8226; Thirty-five Pi Kappa Phis annually raise more than $500,000

and#8226; More than 900 undergraduates have participated in the Journey of Hope

and#8226; The men of Pi Kappa Phi have been dedicated to people with disabilities since 1977

and#8226; Visit for information

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