GV fraternity raises record $12,000 for canine companions

Courtesy Photo / Kyle Bibby
Canine Companion Fundraiser

Courtesy Photo / Kyle Bibby Canine Companion Fundraiser

Lauren Fitch

In the past 15 years, Grand Valley State University’s Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity has biked a total of 18,000 miles, all for the purpose of raising money to help train canine companions for people with disabilities.

This year, the eight-day bike trip proved to be their most successful event yet as the group brought in $12,000. Their year-round fundraising efforts culminated in the bike trip from May 2-9, which took the 14 bikers on a 1,200 mile route from the Carillon Clock Tower on the Allendale campus around Lake Michigan with a stop in Chicago.

“We try to be good role models,” said Tanner Pike, a senior and president of Alpha Sigma Phi. “This shows what we can do when we all work together … It shows how much college students actually care about various organizations.”

The organization of choice, Canine Companions for Independence, has five regional offices that coordinate the raising and training of about 200 companion dogs across the nation each year.

Jane Henry, executive director of the CCI North Central region office, estimated an assistance dog costs about $45,000 total for training and care throughout its life. CCI places its dogs free of charge to the recipient, which makes donors such as Alpha Sigma Phi extremely valuable.

The decision to adopt CCI as Alpha Sigma Phi’s main charity occurred in 1996. Pike said the founding fathers wanted to do something unique and a few of the 55 current brothers still have personal ties to the organization as some of their family members require guide dogs.

To date, the fraternity has raised a total of $85,000 for CCI, which makes it one of the biggest contributors of GVSU’s Greek life community.

Each year, the route for the bike trip is about the same circling Lake Michigan. The group stops at a CCI office in Chicago for a reception with some of the trainers and recipients of the dogs where Alpha Sigma Phi hands them a check and also gets to witness what the dogs are capable of.

Kyle Bibby, a junior in Alpha Sigma Phi, was in charge of planning the bike trip this year. The riders split into teams of four so one member of each team could bike for about an hour and a half at a time, which would cover around 20 miles. Collectively, the group would travel about 100 miles in a day before stopping at various churches, schools or friends’ homes to sleep along the way.

Bibby said the best part of the trip for him was meeting the individuals who get the dogs.

Alpha Sigma Phi is currently accepting donations for next year’s bike trip, and those who would like to give can contact Pike at [email protected]. For more information about CCI, visit www.cci.org.

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