Dexter Grad to Ride Across the Country to Raise Money for Charity


Matt Keogh has some long days ahead in the saddle. Photo by Doug Marrin.

By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

You may want to set aside what you think about fraternities for a moment.

Dexter grad Matt Keogh belongs to a national brotherhood that raises $750,000 annually to support people living with disabilities. To do his part, Matt is biking 3,700 miles from San Francisco to Washington DC to raise for the Pi Kappa Phi philanthropic organization—The Ability Experience.

“Throughout the year, chapters from across the country fundraise money and donate it all to The Ability Experience,” explains Matt. “The whole point is to raise awareness and money for people with disabilities. The more we can broadcast into our communities what it is like to live with disabilities, the better the support.”

The Ability Experience is the philanthropic initiative of the Pi Kappa Phi, the only national fraternity that maintains its own non-profit organization. The fraternity strives to instill a passion for lifelong service in its members while helping to empower people living with disabilities. The Ability Experience promotes awareness, understanding, and empathy for people living with disabilities. The fraternity raises over $750,000 annually.

“I wasn’t planning to rush or join a fraternity,” says Matt. “But some buddies at school told me about Pi Kappa Phi. I saw it as a chance to be social, have fun, focus on grades, and make a larger impact on the world.”

Matt (left) during a bike-a-thon fundraiser at Purdue. Members of the fraternity took turns pedaling for 72 hours straight. Photo courtesy of Matt Keogh.

Matt will be a senior this fall and is pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering. Matt is well aware of the reputation fraternities have in entertainment and the news. “But I’ve had a completely different experience,” he says. “I’ve met my best friends in the world, incredible people who also can have fun but then go out and make a difference.”

Matt’s Omega chapter of Pi Kappa Phi at Purdue raised $77,000 last year and put in over 5,000 service hours during the school year. In addition to other fundraising projects, Matt has signed on for the Journey of Hope. The fundraiser is a bike ride beginning in San Fransisco and tours the country for 3,700 miles over two months until its finish in Washington DC.

The 24-member bike team is comprised of Pi Kappa Phi brothers from around the country. Matt is the only rider from the Purdue chapter but is no cyclist. His first time on a road bike was three months ago, and he’s trained for 700 miles since then.

“The charitable aspect is the only reason I’m doing the ride,” he says with what could be a slightly nervous grin. “But the guys riding are going to raise over $400,000.”

“You can’t look too deep into the ride,” adds Matt. “If you think about doing 3,700 miles in two months, it gets into your head. I don’t think what I’m actually doing has hit me yet.”

Matt brings the focus back on the purpose of it all. “As we’re traveling across the country, we’re stopping at disability centers and spending time with people living with their own particular challenges,” he says. “And if we’re able to put a smile on their face, then that makes it all worth it.”

Matt and his team begin their ride on June 9 in San Francisco and finish on August 10 in Washington DC.

The cyclists are scheduled to ride through Dexter on August 1.

If you would like to donate to the Journey of Hope, you can do so at

You can learn more about the Ability Experience at

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