July 5, 2011
Most of the crew and racers have returned home, though Steven and Marty are continuing a vacation in the States before returning to Australia. We're snug in our own beds with our dogs, cats and loved ones. We're catching up on a week's worth of sleep. We're massaging the aches and pains, and Cisco is seeing the dentist to deal with his teeth that got "pushed in" when he crashed in Gettysburg.
Yes, Cisco crashed in Gettysburg. This is the guy who went down passes in the Rockies at warp speed, who careened down the road in the middle of the night on next to no sleep. But a little bit of gravel did him in on a flat road in Gettysburg. He got scraped up but was well enough to ride into Annapolis with his teammates.
So the race is over, but Team4HIVHope is far from over. There is still much to be done. DNA Magazine in Australia has contacted Steven about doing a profile on him when he returns home. We continue to tweet and Facebook about the race. We do not want people to forget about what those racers did. We want to keep up the momentum.
Perhaps we will inspire another HIV-positive team to race next year. Maybe we inspired some people to participate in one of the many AIDS rides that occur around the US and the world.
Better yet, perhaps we will inspire people, HIV positive or not, to demand treatment for all who are affected, whether or not they can afford to pay.
And maybe we changed some minds. We met many people along the way at Time Stations throughout the country. People at Quickee Marts, Walmarts and gas stations throughout the United States saw HIV-positive people using their restrooms, buying ice and looking just like anyone else. Perhaps some of these people have never knowingly met an HIV-positive person before. And while they might not have been ready to embrace any of the team, they respected what we were doing. And they wished us success.
When racer Jim Williams was on the Today Show before the race, he said he wanted to show people that "we are not lepers." I hope we showed people that indeed, we are not lepers or pariahs, but people just like everybody else with the same hopes and desires. And, with the right treatment, and damned hard work, the ability to reach higher highs than we had ever imagined.
One member of the group I have yet to mention is Patrick Burns. Patrick followed the team in our "gofer" car, filming hours of footage of the racers and crew. He is far from finished, and he will be doing follow-up interviews with team members in the weeks and months to come. All of this will be put into a documentary about Team4HIVHope and its groundbreaking entry in RAAM. I'll try to keep you posted about developments, if not here, then on our Facebook page.
The racers and crew have been forever changed by our experience and each of us will continue to spread the word of acceptance and right to treatment.
And if anyone else out there is crazy enough to want to follow in our footsteps, we are ready with encouragement and advice. We have learned a lot.