I am so very grateful for the quality of medical care I have received and once again I'm able to participate in the Aids/Lifecycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles; all 551 miles of it. In 2011 while writing some Christmas cards, I took special note of the red ribbons in my phone book next to the names of men and women in my life who had died of AIDS. Emotions, stuffed inside for years poured out. Instantly it became evident that writing a check was no longer enough; I had to get on a bike and actually do the ride. It took a lot of work but I did it and continued to do it. While training for the 2017 ride, the increasing pain in my spine made it clear to me I would never be able to complete the very tough route and I had to drop out. Long story short, I had major surgery in October 2017; a complete spinal rebuild. The rehab was a little over a year long. I was able to get back on a bike again a few weeks ago. I tried to go around the block falling three times and ended up walking the bike a half block home. It was hard, I did not have much balance and zero endurance but gradually the body kept coming back a little at a time. At 68, I registered to do the ride again this next June 2nd of 2019, and I need your help.
HIV infection has morphed within this country and is growing in new areas/populations. ALL of us need to be concerned. Back in 1981, when the virus was first officially diagnosed the infections were mainly in white gay male populations and mostly confined to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New Orleans as well as London, and Paris. This is not so anymore. Today in 2018, the percentage infection rate in white males has actually gone down though it has increased greatly in the Black and Hispanic communities. The highest sub group percentage of infection increase is now in women in the southern states. Sadly, young persons between 13 and 24 make up 21% of all new infections. All I want to do is to do my part so my nieces and nephews, and now their kids and your kids, can grow up in an AIDS free world. It has to start here in the United States. We need to show we have an answer as there are over 37,000,000 persons in the world who are infected with the HIV virus.
The good news is that we all have hope. California, having two cities with the highest initial cases of HIV infection has had a long history with the epidemic. The San Francisco Aids Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center Jeffery Goodman Clinic are open to all persons regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or the ability to pay. Because of large grants and donations plus a huge amount of donated time, both organizations have an extremely high percentage of funds they've raised that go directly to client services. Check them out on "Charity Navigator" and other rating sites.
With highest percentage increase rates of HIV infections now in the southern states we can share what we have learned. What we have learned is working. Cities like New Orleans plus many in the state of Florida are now duplicating our systems, systems that were once considered impossible. Los Angeles and San Francisco have set goals of ZERO NEW INFECTION rates, and San Francisco is on its way to becoming the first major city in the world with that reality. What are we doing? First, we are treating those with HIV as we would any person who had a life-threatening disease such as cancer, Leukemia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease. No moral judgements, just help. We are sharing what we learn with cities throughout the nation especially those in our country’s southern states.
Now retired, I don’t have as many contacts for donations as I once did to reach my goal of raising $5,000. Donations have come in many amounts over the years. One person I met and conversed with for less than a minute wrote a check for $1,000. The least, yet greatest and most heartfelt came from a group of field workers in Central California that we encountered one year while on the ride route. Picking crops, they stopped, took up a collection and, because they wanted to "do their part" gave us $4.87.
Over the years ALC, (AIDS Life Cycle) is approaching close to $200,000,000 in donations. In 2018 alone we raised over $16,630,000! It’s expensive to do this ride. Registration fees, bikes, gear, meals away from home, hotels and airline flights don’t come cheap; all of us bike riders and roadies pay for this personally out of pocket so more money goes to those in need. I was raised with the concept of tithing where we would give 10% of our disposable money to what fed us spiritually. Thanks mom and dad. I’ll do that again by matching my first donors with $500 out of pocket. Can you help? HIT ON THE "DONATE" TAB AT THE UPPER RIGHT. SCROLL DOWN AND TYPE IN MY NAME, DAVID WOODARD and hit on the little looking glass icon to the right of my last name. Follow the instructions to make your tax-deductible donation. This is a very secure site.
Peace, health and blessings to you all! Dave Woodard, Rider # 2145