Why I Ride: Tod Barnett
In my first year of riding, I was 22 years old and I had just moved to San Francisco. My friend, Christopher Vasquez, invited me along on some long distance bike rides, and I didn't think anything of it. More interested in the personal challenge of riding further than I ever had before, I came along for some rides. As I grew closer to some of the other riders, I realized that I had unknowingly become woven into the ALC community.
As I spent time with these passionate riders, I had a few friends from my personal life come out to me as being HIV positive. These were young 18-24-year-olds that were going to be facing immense stigma from all types of people, particularly those in the gay community, their own community, until I—we—do everything that we can to end that. These friends of mine were inspired by my involvement with the ride just as I was blown away by their personal strength to take on the virus virtually on their own.
This year marks my fourth year of riding, and my second year of championing a team that I developed with a few of my motivated peers. This year, we've grown to 40 riders, with an overwhelming majority that are riding for the first time with our team, Team Unpopular. We placed in the top fundraising teams last year and are on par to do it again this year.
Every ounce of love and support that I've received for this ride has been multiplied tenfold and has made an enormous impact on the community through the help of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.
My name is Tod Barnett, and I will never stop fighting for this cause.