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Local soccer favorite plans 865-mile Florida bike ride

Andalusia High School graduate Hiten Patel was known locally for his athletic abilities on the soccer field.

In May, the UAB student plans to use that athleticism to bike 865 miles through Florida and raise money for Ability Experience, the official philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity.

UAB student Hiten Patel plans to bike 865 miles to raise awareness of and money for people with disabilities. Courtesy photos

UAB student Hiten Patel plans to bike 865 miles to raise awareness of and money for people with disabilities.
Courtesy photos

“Ability Experience” is a 501(c)(3) founded in 1977 with the purpose of instilling lifelong service in fraternity members and enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities.

“I started working with it through my fraternity and really like it,” Patel said. “I want to do this to raise awareness and to raise money for the organization.”

The group will ride 70 to 80 days per day for two weeks.

“We stop every day at centers serving people with disabilities for friendship visits,’ he said. “In some cases we will be helping with fundraisers, and in others we will just be spending time with the members, impacting their lives as they impact ours.”

The trip will begin in Miami and end in Tallahassee.

“Although biking across Florida is nothing compared to the struggles that people with disabilities face on a daily basis, I think it offers an interesting insight into their circumstance. People with disabilities are able to embrace what they cannot change, and I’ve seen it happen first hand. They find joy in what they can do, and I can’t even imagine how hard that must be. The outlook they have on life illuminates those that get to know them.

“Even though their lives are hard, most of the time they are happier than you or me,” he said. “That affects you, in a positive way.”

Asked what he’s doing to prepare for the rides, he laughed.

“Well, I run a lot,” he said. “I’m an athlete, so I’ll figure it out.”

Patel’s personal fundraising goal is $3,500, as part of his team’s goal of raising more than $105,000. Contributions can be made online at http://support.abilityexperience.org/goto/hitenp.

Friends also may follow his trip on his event Facebook page, “Hiten Patel’s Gear Up Florida Trip.” He also can be reached by email at hitenp@uab.edu.

Patel plans to complete his undergraduate degree in the fall of 2018, and hopes to enter dental school.