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PUSH AMERICA

PERSPECTIVE PERSPECTIVE FOR THE PUSH AMERICA FAMILY

SUMMER 2011

Jason and Kyle on a training run in 2010 near the Dorn family’s home outside Atlanta.

ay back in 2005, a young man, just finished with his undergraduate career, was spending his summer serving others. As a team member on the Journey of Hope South route, Kyle Thomas cycled an average of 75 miles a day through the sweltering heat of the southern states of the country between San Francisco and Washington, D.C. As much of a challenge as it was from the seat of his bicycle, the biggest hurdle for Kyle to climb was off the bike.

and Seizure Disorder, who would make an impact on Kyle that day that he could never forget. Jason and Kyle spent all day playing baseball together on that field that has become so special for them both. After such a great day spent together, it was time for Kyle to say goodbye, but according to Andrea Dorn, Jason’s mother, it was a cherished memory.

“My motivations for riding that summer started pretty selfishly,” Kyle said. “It was appealing to have that on my resume so I could move back to Dallas, start working and make money.”

“It was always a lot of fun to watch Jason playing baseball. There was more joy and more pride that comes out in a two-inning game than anyone could imagine,” Andrea said. “Jason just loved being Kyle’s buddy that day in 2005. He kept talking about his ‘buddy Kyle’ for several days after the team left. Jason’s verbalization then wasn’t where it is now, but he would just light up with his big smile.”

It didn’t take long, however, for Kyle’s thought process to completely shift through his interactions with countless organizations on the road. “It was a challenge for all of us to change our perspectives of people with disabilities. The shift from sympathy to empathy takes time, but there’s been nothing more rewarding in my life thus far. My life is different now because of that summer,” Kyle added.

Kyle said of leaving, “It was hard to leave every Friendship Visit; this was different. I had a picture of us taken that day, but even without that photo, I couldn’t ever forget Jason’s smile. I walked away from that Friendship Visit thinking, ‘Man, that was awesome!’ but I didn’t think I’d ever return to that field. The impact and memory were there, but I just always assumed that would be the extent of it.”

Nearing the end of their journey, the South team stopped in Atlanta for a visit with the North Metro Miracle League, a baseball league for children with disabilities. Kyle said, “At that point in the trip, we had taken part in so many awesome Friendship Visits, it was hard to imagine one standing out as much as this one did.”

After the arrival celebration in Washington, D.C. a few weeks later, Kyle went back to Dallas to begin his post-graduation career. After a few months in his new role, Kyle felt unfulfilled and began searching for something. Although he eventually took a position with Push America, what Kyle found was something so much bigger than any job as he was able to make a difference in the lives of so many through his hard work and dedication to the organization.

Luckily, Kyle met Jason Dorn, then a seven-year-old with Cerebral Palsy

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PUSH AMERICA

PERSPECTIVE The Push America Perspective is an official publication of Push America. Published biannually for the Push America family, the Push America Perspective communicates events taking place throughout the organization while providing awareness to the opportunities for further involvement and giving.

“It always came back to Jason for me. I was continually motivated by Jason, no matter how many years or miles were between us. After I left Atlanta, we didn’t keep in contact, but I never, ever forgot about Jason or that time we spent together. A lot of what I was able to do at Push America was inspired by Jason.” In the early part of 2010 as Kyle was preparing to take on the Marine Corps Marathon as a part of Push America Challenge, he began to think of how his marathon could directly benefit people with disabilities above and beyond fundraising efforts. Again, Jason came to mind. Kyle reached out to the Dorn family to see if Jason would be Above: Jason & the Dorn family on race interested in running morning. Right: Kyle asks spectators to the marathon together. “Cheer 4 Jason.” Below: Kyle and Jason on the day they met in 2005.

If you or someone you know have been impacted by Push America and its programs, you can leave your own mark by giving monthly to the organization. Your contributions will not only ensure these opportunities for young men in the years to come, but also change the lives of people with disabilities across the country. By joining the Legacy Program, Push America will deduct a manageable amount from your credit or debit card at the middle or end of each month. Even a small amount each month can add up to a huge impact!

Kyle said of their new-found partnership, “There is no reason that Jason can’t finish a marathon like anyone else. I wanted to help him finish a marathon, but I knew that he would help me finish the 26.2 miles even more than I would ‘help’ him.” The Dorns had their initial reservations, but also knew that Jason was every bit as capable of completing a marathon as anyone without a disability. Andrea said, “We were extremely touched by Kyle getting back in contact with our family, but there was some apprehension. The length of the run without us was worrisome, but we

were immediately comfortable after talking more to Kyle about it all.” As the marathon approached, Kyle made one trip to Atlanta to train with Jason. In a customized running stroller, Jason cheered Kyle on as they ran around the Dorns’ neighborhood. It was during these times that Jason and Kyle were able to laugh together and rekindle the friendship founded that day in 2005 at the Atlanta Miracle League field. After one training run, Kyle was able to once again join Jason on the very baseball diamond where their friendship formed. “It brought back so many great memories for both of us,” Kyle said. “It was like no time passed between us at all, laughing while rounding the bases and scoring some serious runs!” The Marine Corps Marathon took place on October 31 in Washington, D.C. and the Dorn family made the trip up a few days before. “It was a great experience for the whole family. We were able to take Jason and his sisters to all the monuments, which they just loved,” Andrea said. Jason and Kyle were able to spend some quality time together before running the big race Sunday morning. At the pre-race dinner the night before, Jason and Kyle were recognized for their outstanding fundraising efforts that would be included in a grant given to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit benefitting service men and women returning home with injuries from military service. Then the big day came. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about it. I’d done a couple marathons before, but this one carried a little more weight with it,” Kyle said. “I didn’t want to let Jason down, but I knew he was going to push me further than I ever thought I could be pushed.” Continued on page 3

For more information on the Legacy Program, please contact Kevin Kelly, director of development at (704) 504-2400 ext. 125.

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Push America is proud to announce the launching of the new pushamerica.org! The new website has been in development for the last few months, and we are excited about all of the features the new site holds, including a resource library, events calendar, online order forms for merchandise, and even more. We would love to know what you think of the site, or if you have any issues with its functionality. Please e-mail feedback@pushamerica.org to provide us with your thoughts and opinions! Even though the site has launched, it is still our goal to make sure the new site is as appealing as possible to you, Push America’s most dedicated supporters!


With friends and family by their side and cheers from all directions, Kyle and Jason finished the 35th Marine Corps Marathon in five hours and 21 minutes. “There’s nothing like crossing the finish line of a marathon,” said Kyle. “To do it with Jason right there with me brought tears to my eyes. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather cross the line with than him.” Finishing the race together was so special to Jason and Kyle that they’ve decided to do it again in October of this year. Tanner Bacon, former director of Push America Challenge, said of the weekend, “It was something else to see those two together, laughing and carrying on.” He continued, “You could even see that at the end of the race. Although

they were both tired, you could tell that they loved being together just as much at mile 26 as mile 2.6. We’re all excited to see where this new friendship takes them both.” “We were just so excited and proud and tearful and happy. It was such a neat experience as a whole. We were so proud of Jason and Kyle for their achievement that day,” Andrea said. “Our excitement for this year is already building, but the only thing that makes us nervous this year is that last year was so perfect!” If you would like to join Jason and Kyle and the rest of the Push America Challenge: Marine Corps Marathon and 10K team this October 30 in Washington, D.C., please visit http://ow.ly/5zeLE (link is case sensitive) or contact Kevin Kelly at kkelly@pushamerica.org.

WAYS TO GIVE As Push America grows the programs offering opportunities for members to impact the lives of people with disabilities, so grows the importance we place on our fundraising efforts. The more money we raise, the greater impact we have in communities across the country.

There are a number of ways to give to Push America; however, a monetary contribution directly to the organization will have a greater impact on enhancing the lives of people with disabilities. Various methods of monetary giving and some other ways to give are listed below. COMBINED FEDERAL CAMPAIGN Annually, Push America receives over $15,000 in donations from government employees through the CFC. Push America’s CFC code is 10254. CORPORATE SPONSORSHIPS Our summer events are a great way for your company to get connected to high impact events while working to meet your marketing needs. The sponsorship programs begin with affordable buy-ins and can be tailored to fit your company’s goals. GIFTS OF STOCK Many people make their donation to Push America through a gift of stock. Contact the Push America office for information on how to make a donation of this kind. MATCHING GIFTS Many large corporations have matching gift programs. This is a great way to double the impact your donation will have on the mission. MONTHLY DRAFT You can have your donation automatically drafted out of your personal checking account on a monthly basis. It is an easy way to make a difference. PLANNED GIVING Consider remembering Push America through your estate plan. A planned gift helps to ensure Push America’s future and to expand the existing programs. SELL THINGS ON EBAY Through Ebay Giving Works and Missionfish.org , you can give a portion or all of your earnings to Push America. SPONSOR A MEAL We are always in need of meals across the country. Something that can be better than sponsoring a meal yourself is to help get the community involved. By getting your church or civic club together with a local organization like Arc or Special Olympics you are helping to spread the magic of our summer events. SPONSOR A TEAM MEMBER The average team member receives 55 donations to reach their goal. With proper planning and follow through well over 95% are able to accomplish their goals in just three months.

GoodSearch & GoodShop What Internet search engine do you use? You now have the chance to make a small, but appreciated gift each time you search the Web using GoodSearch. GoodSearch is a search engine powered by Yahoo designed to make a small donation to the charity of your choice each time it is used to search the Web. Push America is one of the charities supported by GoodSearch. Where do you shop online? Using GoodShop, a percentage of your online purchase can now go to Push America. Shop at Amazon, Nike, Apple and other great stores while benefitting Push America. It is that simple! GoodSearch and GoodShop are very easy to use and requires very little effort to set your computer to donate to Push America. First, visit www.goodsearch.com. Then, verify Push America as the organization you would like to support and bookmark the page. Then you are ready to begin.

THE PUSH AMERICA CHALLENGE Participating in a triathlon or marathon? Training for a 5k? This program is a great way to connect your race to a great cause. UNITED WAY GIVING Designate all or a portion of your United Way Gift to Push America. Regardless of how you give, we want to thank you for your contribution. As Push America continues to grow, your gift is vital to helping double the number of opportunities we offer and the grants we award. We appreciate your support in the past, as well as in the future.

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PUSH AMERICA

PERSPECTIVE Continued Commitment

PERSPECTIVE FOR THE PUSH AMERICA FAMILY

SUMMER 2011

BY: Tanner Bacon, former Director of Push America Challenge

A ride-along with one of Push America’s cycling teams has become a special tradition for past participants to relive their days on the road. Whether a one day ride in California or a three-day ride into Washington, D.C., these moments have added countless memories to an already fulfilled Pi Alpha. One chapter that stands out as always filling a ride-along roster are the men from the University of California at Berkeley. Juan Serrano, a cyclist from the 1995 Journey of Hope team, continues to come back year after year. He does so “to re-affirm what a unique experience we had the opportunity of participating so many years ago.” Serrano has “re-affirmed” the experience several times

since ’95 and still thrives for the next. In his eight years since riding Journey of Hope, JC Lopez has joined the team each year to climb the illustrious Kirkwood pass in eastern California. He recounts, “What we share goes beyond that one climb, that one pace line, that one bike ride, or even one summer; it’s the camaraderie that brings me back every year.” Not all ride-alongs have been the same. In 2007, Scott Peattie, 2003 Journey of Hope South, participated in a much anticipated day of retracing the first day of the trip. After the first few miles, the joy of being back on the bike seat wore off and the only thing that kept him going was the In-N-Out Burger waiting

for him in Napa, Cali. Peattie was reminded that day that it’s not always about the bike. “Whether it’s supporting the Kirkwood ride, sponsoring a lunch or attending an event, there are lots of opportunities to stay involved. I’m reminded of the importance of this every time I do a ride-along,” Scott said. Many Pi Alphas have come back to the road to experience a slice of their unforgettable summer. Push America is grateful for the Gamma chapter and all others who have continued to be involved since their trip. To see how you can be involved as a Pi Alpha, visit www.pushamerica.org or contact Kevin Kelly at kkelly@pushamerica.org.

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Push Perspective - Summer 2011