Fraternity members bike through the country for a cause


Rebekah Alvey

On May 20 seven WKU fraternity members set off on a coast to coast bike trek with a goal to end Alzheimer’s. 

Bike4Alz is WKU’s Phi Gamma Delta chapter’s primary philanthropy event. Rather than enjoying relaxing summer days, members of the fraternity have dedicated their time to biking from California to Virginia. 

During the ride, the bikers will also host fundraising events and engage with the community to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. Louisville junior Tommy Sullivan, a driver on the trip, said the fraternity allocates all funds towards research at Alzheimer’s Association.

A fraternity member started Bike4Alz in 2010. In the past, the fraternity has held a ride every other year.Every ride has featured new members and a new route. 

This year is the fifth ride and the first back-to-back trip. Sullivan said this presented new challenges because of the shorter planning period, however, he said he believes it will strengthen ties in the cities they visit this year. 

In the five trips, they have raised a little under $200,000 for research. 

As a driver, Sullivan said he drives ahead of bikers and sets up rest stops every 15 to 20 miles. The riders can refuel with water and snacks before biking again. 

Sullivan said the group is averaging 60 to 70 miles every day. Louisville junior rider, Alex Houlton, said he joined the fraternity intending to participate in Bike4Alz. Houlton said they have biked through a lot of heat and adverse conditions. 

Houlton said no one was a competitive or serious biker before joining the group. He said they began individual trips over winter break, then would go on 20-mile rides twice a week during the spring semester. 

Houlton said the reminder of what they’re riding for keeps the team motivated. Many of the riders have a personal connection to Alzheimer’s. Sullivan said his grandmother passed away a few years ago from the disease.

“Ending Alzheimer’s has always been a dream of mine,” Sullivan said. “This trip makes it feel like a possible mission.” 

Houlton said he has no personal connection to Alzheimer’s but has been able to meet people who have been touched by the disease and hear their stories along the trip. 

Through social media, supporters of Bike4Alz can dedicate a day of riding or donate to the group. Houlton said seeing the support is encouraging every day. 

The group is currently biking through their third state. Bike4Alz will be travelling to Bowling Green July 6, where Houlton said they had received the most support.

“We are blessed to come across people who share our passion,” Houlton said.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].