Why I Ride: Dan Burke
I originally signed up for my first AIDS Ride back in 2000 from Amsterdam to Paris. At the time, I wanted to do the ride for the challenge and to see the European countryside, all while supporting a good cause. Although circumstances prevented me from fulfilling my goal, my desire to see it through has never wavered.
Fast forward to last year, when I became involved with the AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) community, even before I became a participant. I spent a substantial amount of time helping my friend (now boyfriend), Jeremy, raise more than $11,000 for his first ALC. Over the course of that year, I met several people who significantly benefited from the money raised from the S.F.-L.A. ride. I also got to “experience” the ride through Jeremy’s pictures, Facebook posts and fundraising parties. When I welcomed him and 2,200 other riders home on the final day at the Closing Ceremony last year, I decided the time had come to commit myself to the training and fundraising required to ride ALC in 2013. I wanted to be part of this incredible and life-changing journey. I wanted to make a difference.
Shortly after I registered, I received a sizeable donation from a college friend with whom I hadn’t really kept in touch with in the subsequent 15 years, apart from an occasional "hello" on Facebook. She e-mailed and told me why it was so important to her that I was riding. She shared a personal story that I could tell wasn’t shared with many others, and it moved me to tears. It amazed me how much she wanted to support me even though we hadn’t been in each other's lives for so long. In committing to the ride, I realized I had helped her. Not long after I officially joined the ALC community, I came to meet some of the most amazing people I’ve had the privilege of knowing, many of who personally benefit from the services the ride helps fund. Hearing their stories as well made me further realize why I’m riding.
I am proud to be part of the ALC community. I will ride this year for all the people that benefit from the services that the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation help provide. I will ride for the challenge and for the sense of accomplishment that I know I will feel. Most importantly, I will ride to help fight HIV/AIDS, so that one day we can all ride just for fun!
*Photo by Steve Rood