I was incredibly fortunate this past year to get to ride in AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The annual ride is one of the biggest sources of funding for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Los Angeles LGBT Center. Not only does the ride support research efforts to find a cure to HIV, it also supports those living with HIV and AIDS, provides community education and outreach, and works to decrease the stigma of living with AIDS.
The ride was a transformational experience in my life. AIDS/LifeCycle is an affirming LGBT community on wheels, and served as an inspiration to me to become more engaged and involved in my local community. The ride was challenging physically, but it also challenged me to rethink my role in the LGBT community for the better.
Here's how you can help me this year.
I'm aiming to raise $5000 for SF AIDS Foundation and LA LGBT Center and you can donate here. Even a small donation of $5 is one small step towards my goal of $5000.
Also, please help me extend my reach by sharing about the ride on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever social networks you inhabit.
Thank you for your love and support!
My Personal Web Log
Why I Ride
I recently shared this in the form of a letter, and I wanted to repost here:
In less than 60 days I'll be riding again in AIDS/Lifecycle from SF to LA to fundraise and build awareness for the HIV/AIDS community. I'm writing to tell you for three reasons:
1. To publicly thank my friends and family who made this ride possible for me.
2. To share more about my experience on AIDS/Lifecycle this last year and why it's so important to support foundations like the SF AIDS Foundation and LA LGBT Center.
3. I am fundraising again and I want to tell you why I'm riding this year.
At the very least though, I hope you appreciate learning more about why I'm doing the ride and enjoy the pictures.
First, I want to thank everyone who donated to me last year and thank those who've donated this year. AIDS/LifeCycle would not have been possible for me without the generosity of my friends and family.
Last year, the AIDS/Lifecycle community raised more that $16 million to support prevention efforts and assistance for those living with HIV and AIDS. Thank you so much for being a part of that community.
The ride itself was a humbling and transformative experience for me. The 545-mile ride was physically challenging, and I became more connected to the LGBT community through the process. My fellow riders were loving, intelligent, funny, and supportive. I left the ride feeling more connected to the LGBT community and with a greater understanding of the role that community plays in the lives of those living with HIV and AIDS.
One of the most memorable moments of the ride happened at the end of a day of riding. All of the riders were on Ventura Beach with lit candles representing those who have died from AIDS. Following a silent vigil, we released the candles into the surf and watched as the twinkling lights drifted away through the waves. I still get choked up at the memory of this simple and beautiful ceremony.
The history of HIV and AIDS is, for the most part, a story of exclusion and separation. Even though the science around the transmission of HIV is well known today and there are number of drugs that people can take to control most of the impact of the disease, there is still a tremendous stigma around having HIV/AIDS. This is especially true even in the LGBT community.
One of the largest sub-communities on the ride are the so-called Poz Peddlers. The Poz Peddlers are men and women self-identified as HIV positive. They promote their status on the ride and in their local communities as a way of breaking down barriers and reducing the stigma of living with HIV. I got to know several Poz Peddlers on the ride, and they helped to transform my understanding of what it means to live with HIV.
I'm riding in AIDS/Lifecycle again this year because I believe outreach and support for those living with HIV/AIDS is critical for the LGBT community. The services that local HIV/AIDS foundations provide are a literal lifeline to people who may have little or no other support.
The money that you donate goes directly to perform lifesaving work in the LGBT community. Your love and support of me, and my community, means the world. I hope that you donate to my AIDS / Lifecycle ride this year.
Thanks again and much love,
by David Baars on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 @ 2:21 PM