3rd time's still a charm!
May 31st - June 6th 2020 was meant to be when over 3,000 Cyclists, Roadies and Virtual Cyclists would be participating in AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise funds for the life-saving services offered by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 epidemic this year's ride was canceled. I was so looking forward to doing it again. However the need to raise funds for HIV and AIDS services is more important than ever since these organizations have lost a lot of money that would have been raised with the ride. I have challenged myself to ride the same number of miles, 545, over a 10 day period (May 22 to May 31). I will be riding solo, so no catered rest stops, no mechanics and no SAG buses (maybe John will pick me up if I have an issue) and temperatures already in the triple digits! So this 54.5 year old will be on my road bike every morning by 5:45 averaging 54.5 miles over 10 days. You will notice a pattern there.
Cycling has always been a part of my life since my teenage years. This activity has been a source of physical and mental health, catharsis, adventure, as well as transportation. When I moved to Calgary for University, cycling was my primary transportation. In summer or winter, it was how I got from point A to point B. Cycling has also been a time when I get to be alone, relieve stress, and purge all thought. Sometimes it’s just meditative, other times I have a chance to work out problems.
Cycling has also been a great way to see the world. I spent a year biking and camping through Central America, took my bike along on trips, and utilized bike-share programs in countries worldwide. I can think of no better way to explore a new area. I just enjoy being outside and being active. I truly am happiest when I am on two wheels and pedaling, any type of bike and any speed, it just makes me happy!
AIDS has also been a part of my life since my teenage years, and has also shaped who I am as a person. Knowing I was gay as a teenager, and reading how gay men were dying from this disease in the early 80's had an impact on how I lived my life. I committed to a relationship at an early age, and stayed in it longer than I should have because I felt it was safe. During my late teens and early 20's, it was heartbreaking to see my closest friend at that time, multiple other friends, teammates from sports, and acquaintances simply die. It was such a different experience from my straight friends of the same age at that time. I remember worrying that a sore throat or the slightest cold might mean I was infected and would die.
AIDS has impacted me and shaped me, influenced my decisions, and dictated how I lived my life. Though tragic, it also brought me closer to people. It brought me closer to my gay community of Calgary, and now my new home in Palm Springs. I’d like to contribute with an act of hope.
Below is information on how your donation helps both on a national and world basis.
In the United States
Almost 1 in 8 of those infected with HIV doesn’t know it. Gay and bisexual men overall account for the majority of all new HIV infections. The Centers for Disease Control recently released a projection that if current trends continue, half of black gay men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime. By race, African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV, and represent the majority of new AIDS diagnoses, new HIV infections, people living with HIV/AIDS, and AIDS deaths.
In the World
Since the beginning of the epidemic, almost 78 million people have been infected with HIV and about 39 million people have died of AIDS-related causes. 2.6 million of those people living with HIV are under age 15. Africa accounted for 66 per cent of the world’s AIDS deaths in 2014. Around 41 per cent of people living with HIV had access to antiretroviral therapy in March 2015 – some 15 million people.
How does your participation help people living outside of California?
The programs and services offered through the Los Angeles LGBT Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation serve as models of care and prevention around the world. Members of both agencies work with organizations in several countries to share best practices to end the global AIDS epidemic.
The Center’s renowned Clinical Research Program conducts research studies and clinical trials that contribute to scientific knowledge regarding the prevention, intervention, and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The research staff are vital community partners with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, UCLA, USC, UCSF and other institutions. Aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, the Center’s research focuses on intervening at every stage of HIV infection.
The services provided as a result of this event mean the world to those who receive them, and your support means the world to me.
We’re working together to make HIV/AIDS a thing of the past. Will you support me by making a donation today?