April 1, 2011
For the past three years I have taken part in an annual event called the Ride for AIDS Chicago. Ride for AIDS Chicago is a two-day, 200-mile charity cycling event that goes from Chicago, Illinois, to Elkhorne, Wisconsin.
Ride for AIDS Chicago raises money to support an AIDS service organization (ASO) here in Chicago called Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN). TPAN is Chicago's oldest peer-led organization and since 1987 has been teaching people how to live with HIV/AIDS instead of die from it.
I started doing the Ride as a personal challenge. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, at one point my life headed down a dark and dangerous path. Drug use helped fuel a deep depression that only got worse once I found out I was HIV positive in 2002. With 123 T-cells and a diagnosis of AIDS, I thought for sure I wouldn't live to see 30.
In one of those classic light bulb moments I realized that if I continued down the path I was on I wouldn't see 30 years old, not because of my HIV, but rather my partying ways!
In June of 2007 I began training for my first marathon through a charity-training program called AIDS Marathon. Thanksgiving weekend 2007 I ran my first marathon in Florence, Italy. This was to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Endurance training and fundraising helped heal my body, my soul, and my mind. Doing for others, while doing for myself was such a transformative experience for me. I continued to ride this wave through six more marathons and three charity bike rides; in 2010 I captained my own team through the 2010 Ride for AIDS Chicago. Since 2007 I have helped raise over $52,000 to support HIV & AIDS services here in Chicago.
In October of 2010 I began working for the AIDS service organization that produces the Ride for AIDS Chicago; Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) is Chicago's oldest peer-led organization in the city. Support groups, substance abuse programs, counseling, and needle exchange are just some of the services we provide here at TPAN.
I wrote this blog entry for two reasons:
Lastly, to support my fundraising for the 2011 Ride, please visit my fundraising page.