Cyclists raise money, awareness

By Mike Linn

Jane, a fictional character in the form of a puppet, said she had Down syndrome and was a slow learner. She said she wasn’t like others because she had an extra chromosome. She also said with practice she can do many things ordinary people can — and she proved she can do some things even better.
Jane was the center piece of a puppet show on Monday at the Southside Church of Christ conducted by a group of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity members at the midway point in their cycling trek across America.
In the skit titled “Jane at the Vet.,” Jane was able to gently put medicine in a dog’s ear after the animal’s owner was unable to do so on the first try.
“I go to high school like everyone else … I have big plans for the future,” Jane told the dog’s owner and a group of about 50 on hand for the show.
The national fraternity’s mission is to raise money and awareness for the severely handicapped. And participants will each log about 4,000 miles on bikes with tires no wider than the average paperback romance novel to get the job done.
To greet the cyclists Monday afternoon, Portales city council member Dianne Parker read a proclamation after they arrived at the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
The group of 25 cyclists began their journey at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco a month ago to the day. They said they’ve seen various forms of wildlife, acquired the attention of curious cattle and marveled while climbing through picturesque mountain ranges. They plan on arriving in Washington, D.C., to complete their mission by mid August.
For cyclists Tony Le and David Nakon the message of the skit — and their cross country mission for that matter — was as clear as the New Mexico sky above them on Monday afternoon.
“Treat people equally no matter what, no matter their race, creed or how others may perceive them to be,” Nakon said.
For Le the loss of his sister an hour after she was born has prompted him to dedicate this summer to helping others.
“I felt like this trip would really help me,” Le said. “So far I feel like a better person every single day; this trip has really helped a lot.”