I’m excited to continue my journey in supporting the life-saving services offered by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. The services provided as a result of my fundraising efforts mean the world to those who receive them, and your support means the world to me.
You’re probably aware that the principle fundraising event, AIDS/LifeCycle, was canceled this past June and has already been canceled for June 2021. I wasn’t planning to ride this year, and still, when the announcement came down that ALC wasn’t happening, I was crushed. I knew the announcement was coming; we all did, yet it was still an awful blow. Even though I wasn’t riding, of all of the events that were disappearing left and right, this is the one that left me heartbroken and crying. I had watched from the sidelines as my friends posted about their training rides and shared their individual achievements and excitement for the upcoming event. I grieved for their lost experience and for what might become of SFAF and LA LGBT Center.
We have our answer in TogetheRide. The TogetheRide is a collective team effort to bicycle 1.2 million miles between now and the end of June. That’s one mile for every person in the United States currently living with HIV. It’s roughly 50 times around the Earth’s circumference, just to throw in a little perspective. Each Rider commits to a milage goal of their own choosing and a fundraising goal. This is a fantastic event, open to all ages, and all abilities. Road bike? Get on it. Mountain bike? You’re in. Peloton? Tricycle? Unicycle anyone? You can participate. My personal goals are below (and don’t include a unicycle.)
I’m writing this on October 22, just a couple weeks after the 27th anniversary of my own positive HIV test. Because I live openly about my HIV status, I often hear from other guys who are afraid to reveal their own status, or are afraid of me because of mine. There is too much fear, stigma, and hatred still, so I ride not only to support these organizations and their life-saving work, but also because visibility matters! I will be out there proudly wearing my PozPeds and ALC jerseys from past rides.
As a long-term survivor of HIV, I’m one of the lucky ones. I have excellent insurance through work, and my health is good. I’m getting older, and considering that I once believed I never would, that’s not such a bad thing. I don’t need the services of these two organizations, but many people don’t have the resources I have and desperately need these services. I’m riding for them, and maybe someday, I will need them, too, and I hope someone rides for me.
HIV didn’t stop when Covid came along. Everyone is hurting financially, emotionally, grieving from lost work, lost experiences, lost opportunities, and in many case, lost or distanced loved ones. Because of Covid, even more people need the services of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, yet funds are increasingly hard to come by. I’m riding, in part, because I can. Those of us who can contribute more have to step up to help those hurt by the HIV pandemic while this new one rages alongside it.
Is this the same experience as the AIDS/LifeCycle 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles? No, it isn’t. Nothing can replace that, but we live in a new world. TogetheRide is what we need today to be together in spirit while safely apart. When AIDS/LifeCycle returns, I plan to be a part of it. In the meantime, my teammates and I and thousands of riders around the world will be climbing the hills that must be climbed, rejoicing in the relief of downhill, rediscovering the healing power of butt balm, and maybe having second dinner once in a while…just for old-time’s sake.
I’ve committed to riding 1500 miles between now and the end of June and I’ve set a fund-raising goal of $4500. It’s only $3 a mile. I hope you’ll support me and these two important organizations, or better yet, join us and my amazing ALCaholics team. (And no, we’re not in recovering…just addicted to ALC.) After all, what’s 1.2 million miles between friends?