Pi Kappa Phi’s chapter at George Mason University is raising awareness and money to help the severely handicapped with  its Push America program. The fraternity hopes to recapture the success of last year, when it raised roughly $3,000 at its Miss Push America Annual Pageant.

According to junior global affairs major William Callahan, historian of the Push America effort on Mason’s campus, Push stands for “promoting the understanding of the severely handicapped.” Push America is a nonprofit organization created in 1977 by members of Pi Kappa Phi to help individuals with severe handicaps. The effort has spread across the nation to different chapters of the fraternity in the years since.

by Mikey Powers

Pi Kappa Phi plans on holding the Miss Push America Annual Pageant on April 14. Students are encouraged to attend, and a nominal entrance fee will be donated to Push America.

This year, Pi Kappa Phi plans on incorporating more student organizations into the event.

“Last year was basically just fraternities and sororities because we had a limited scope and limited time. This year, we’re trying to reach out to all organizations if we can,” said sophomore Nikhil Bali, Push America chair.

For last year’s Miss Push America beauty pageant, Pi Kappa Phi reached out to sororities and a few organizations for involvement. In all, 10 students participated.

Each of the 10 participants, all of whom were female, were told that part of the contest was raising $100, Callahan said.

“Each girl raised about $700 dollars by herself,” Callahan said. “Then we had the beauty pageant, and we ended up raising about $3,000. It was probably the biggest Push event we’ve had on campus.”

Pi Kappa Phi donates the money from the Push America effort on campus to the national organization, which then uses the money in programs to help handicapped individuals.

One such program is Build America which builds houses for severely handicapped people who cannot afford housing for themselves. They also help build wheelchair ramps and improve accessibility.

Though nothing has been set in stone yet, Pi Kappa Phi plans to have the events be more campus-oriented, and it also plans on reaching out to other fraternities for support, Bali said.

“It’s not really about whose fraternity you’re in. It’s about helping out these kids,” Bali said.

This year, in addition to the Miss Push America Pageant, Pi Kappa Phi also plans on having a week of events, ideally including some cycling events, Bali said.

Push America has also been associated with cycling, dating back to the Journey of Hope event which began in 1988. In the Journey of Hope, members of Pi Kappa Phi bike from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

Pi Kappa Phi urges members of the community to come out and support the events.

“It’s a good feeling helping those who have not been given the same opportunities as you,” Bali said, “even if you came and gave your one dollar, and you sat down and clapped and danced with them, it’s amazing.”