Dear family and friends,
I guess it is true that ALCaholics keep coming back because guess what?!
I AM BACK for my SECOND AIDS/LifeCycle Ride!!!
You may be asking yourself, "What is AIDS/LifeCycle?"
From June 3rd, 2018 to June 9th, 2018 I will be on my bike riding from San Francisco to Los Angeles. We aim to raise funds for the life-saving services offered by San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center to make a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.
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.
"But Jose, why are you riding for a second time?"
I could say that my most memorable experience on last years' ride was climbing Quad Buster without stopping or hanging out with my teammates and new friends at the campsite or at rest stops, or stuffing my face with cinnamon rolls in Pizmo beach...but while those moments will be forever with me and I will always remember those experiences with great fondness, the one moment that resonated with me the most was actually a conversation that I had with a complete stranger at a stop light in Los Angeles.
While waiting for the rest of my team to arrive at our designated meeting spot so we could cross the finish line together an older man walking by approached me and asked why there were so many cyclists around. I told him that we were on our way to the finish line on our journey from SF to LA and that we were AIDS/LifeCycle participants. He point blank asked me if I was positive to which I replied "no" and then proceeded to ask me why I was riding. I explained that I was doing it not only for the challenge but because I felt that this was a worthy cause. I acknowledged that I was priviledged to live in an age where being diagnosed with the virus is not a death sentence and that I wanted to do whatever I could to raise awareness around the disease and raise funds to help provide support and treatment for people who are living with the virus and to prevent future diagnoses.
With a smile, he asked if I had time to chat some more. We sat and talked for a good 45 minutes during which time he told me his coming out story and his struggle to accept himself; how he found out he had contracted the virus in the late 80s and how he lost his one true love to the epidemic. He told me he considered ending his life after he lost his partner as he was left alone and saw the same outcome for himself that had befallen his partner. However, he realized that his partner would have wanted him to keep living and to be happy. And that's what he did. As we parted ways, he gave me a big hug and then looked me straight in my eyes and thanked me for listening to him but mostly for doing what I was doing and participating in this ride.
THAT was the most memorable and moving moment of my entire ALC experience.
For those who are currently living with HIV, I will ride again to show my support for you. To show you that we stand together and that we are a community, especially during a time when homophobia and stigma against people living with HIV is making a come back. For those that are no longer with us, I will ride in their memory.
Join me in helping to make HIV/AIDS a thing of the past. Every dollar raised just keeps motivating me to keep pedaling my butt off. Please donate to my page and be a part of something amazing!