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Come Ride With Us

Gearing Up for the 2012 Ride for AIDS Chicago

January/February 2012

Come Ride With Us: Gearing Up for the 2012 Ride for AIDS Chicago

As a fundraising event, the Ride for AIDS Chicago (RFAC) raises money. As an endurance event, it changes lives. The two-day, 200-mile bicycling event produced by Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) raises funding for TPAN and other partner agencies.

Since its inception in 2004, the Ride for AIDS Chicago has returned over $1.5 million to TPAN and partner agencies. The 2012 Ride will mark its 10th anniversary and promises to be bigger and better than ever. After raising over $525,000 in 2011 alone, the 2012 Ride aims to raise over $750,000 to support HIV services in the Chicago area.

The Ride begins in Chicago on a Saturday morning for the journey into Wisconsin, along the shores of Lake Geneva, and then into camp on Green Lake, part of the Lauderdale Lakes chain. After arriving at camp, riders and crew members enjoy a hot meal, lounge with friends, and celebrate the accomplishment of making it halfway. With 100 miles behind them, they get a good night's sleep in preparation for the return home.

Riders and crew members can register as part of a team, or as individuals. Riders are required to raise a minimum of $1,000 and crew members are encouraged to set a modest goal of $500. Team captains and other team leaders help ensure that participants are successful in their training and fundraising.

The months of training and fundraising are nothing compared to the challenges HIV-positive people face, but they are challenges nonetheless. Early morning training rides, expensive equipment, sore legs (and other body parts), and relentless requests for donations are just some of the ways Ride participants commit to this event. Many of the riders and crew members are themselves living with HIV.

Here is what some participants have to say about the Ride for AIDS Chicago:

Renee DeMann, 2011 Rider, 2012 Team Co-Captain:
"I had no idea what to expect. It was the most difficult, challenging, strenuous experience of my life, and I was in labor with my child for 13 hours and pushing for three! Can't wait 'til next year!"

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Shannon Cunningham, 2011 Rider and Team Co-Captain, 2012 Fundraising Co-Chair:
"The idea that I could challenge myself to ride 200 miles was the primary reason I signed up for the Ride for AIDS Chicago 2011.

"I ended up raising almost $4,000, making amazing friends, and realizing I do have the ability to change someone's life ... and I did get to ride all 200 miles. "I'm returning this year to help others

learn how strong they are, both physically and mentally, and how the sum of our entire efforts not only changes a community, it creates one. See you on the Ride!"

Lauren Kirby, 2010 and 2011 Rider:
"The Ride meant learning a small part of the endurance and strength it takes to live with HIV/AIDS. I learned this by being passed by people living with HIV/AIDS and knowing that those people were just as strong as me, if not more!

"In addition, the Ride was in the face of a 14-year-old boy who was raised by conservative Catholics saying, "I teared up when that guy [Richard] talked, I've never felt that way before. It makes me want to think differently of people." The Ride to me is changing people's attitudes about those living with HIV/AIDS."

Jeremiah Miles, 2010 and 2011 Rider, 2012 Training Co-Chair:
"For me, RFAC started out as something to 'do.' Then it became a selfish addiction: more training, more donations. Now I have a selfless passion of involvement and awareness."

Shaine Wynsma, 2007 to 2011 Rider; 2008 to 2011 RFAC Co-Chair; and 2012 RFAC Chair:
"What has the Ride done for me? The Ride has allowed that part of me that can conquer anything set in my path to come forward, and it gave me the strength to 'come out' about my own status.

"What does it do for the community? Several things. It keeps the crisis in plain sight, it gives the crisis a face. It shows the community that people who are HIVpositive are not bedridden, waiting to die.

"Why do I continue to participate? I have an addiction to seeing the new riders become empowered and overcoming what they thought was a weakness."

Bill Farrand, TPAN Executive Director, 2007-2010 Crew Member and 2011 Rider:
"After having extremely rewarding experiences as an RFAC crew member over the previous four years, I made a commitment to myself to ride in 2011 to mark and celebrate my 50th birthday, as well as 27 years being HIV-positive. By doing so, I was able to fully understand that we are only limited by the constraints we place upon ourselves through our negative beliefs and preconceptions. By doing the Ride, I proved to myself that a positive outlook -- and a little training -- are the keys to surviving and thriving. It was an experience that has changed my life, and if I can do it, I believe anyone can."

Unlike other rides of this kind, Ride for AIDS Chicago is committed to returning nearly 100% of the money raised back to the beneficiaries. Through corporate sponsorship, registration fees, and the help of dedicated participants, we are able to keep that commitment. In 2011, 97 cents of every dollar raised went to help support HIV services in the community.

The Ride's capacity to inspire and transform lives is one of the many rewards experienced by those who participate in the Ride for AIDS Chicago. The impossible becomes the possible. Hard-earned successes become memories of a lifetime.

The 2012 Ride for AIDS Chicago will take place on July 14 and 15. Registration opened on December 1, 2011. For more information, visit www.RideForAIDS.org. Additional questions may be directed to Richard Cordova, Athletic Events Director at r.cordova@tpan.com.



  
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This article was provided by Positively Aware. It is a part of the publication Positively Aware. Visit Positively Aware's website to find out more about the publication.
 
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