Hi, friends, family and colleagues! Margaret here.
Many of you know that over the past few years, I've been working hard to improve my mental and physical health. Now it's time to take it to the next level -- towards a cause that I'm particularly passionate about.
Fom May 31st to June 6th, 2020, for the 27th year in a row, more than 3,000 cyclists and roadies will be participating in 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. And I will be 1 of those cyclists! In order to participate in the ride, I need to raise atleast $3k, but I've set a lofty goal of $10k. Your moral support and donations will not only personally encourage me, but more importantly will go towards services including sexual health and substance use services, advocacy, and community partnerships in San Francisco and beyond.
For a bit of backstory: in 2004, I was standing in the parish hall of my church shortly after my grandmother suddenly died, watching a video of a group of my friends and their parents engage with a Zulu village in rural Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. They were reading books to the kids, passing out school supplies and clothing, and participating in traditional ceremonies, dances and feasts with the sister community. I asked about the trip, and what seemed most unique was that there was no coercion on either side to adopt each others' faiths. Everyone respected and simply wanted to learn about and celebrate their similarities and differences. I was intrigued and asked my parents if I could go on the next trip. They said we could use my grandmother's memorial fund to sign me up.
A few weeks later, I recieved a letter in the mail from one of the trip organizers that I had been selected to be the subject of a Boston University documentary comparing my "average" American life to that of a young South African woman, Sinethemba Shelembe, who lost both of her parents to HIV. During the next trip to the Zulu village, I got the chance to meet Sne, learn about her culture and understand how HIV/AIDS affected her life. We shared her and many others' stories with the world: http://www.ataleoftwoteens.org.
What started as curiousity about a new culture ended up as a life-changing experience that opened my eyes to what priviledge really means today. Priviledge is, among many things, being born healthy. It's been 15 years since I visited South Africa (three times!) and forged a friendship with Sne and others in the village. But there are still 39 million people in the world living with HIV, and there is still no cure.
This May, I'm looking forward to engaging my health and meeting SF's Life Cycle community while riding one of the most beautiful highways in the world. We’re working together to make HIV/AIDS a thing of the past. Will you support me by making a donation today?
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