There are so many great charities and service groups out there that help our LGBTQ+ Community directly and indirectly. During its 25th year, Instinct and its writers will highlight some of those charities that are near and dear to us and some that may need a bigger spotlight placed upon them as they are fantastic, but everyone doesn’t know about them.
Our next organization in our 2022 Charity Spotlight is AIDS Lifecycle.
It’s Happening! Three days from now approximately 2,000 people will leave San Fransisco and begin their epic 545-mile journey to Los Angeles. It will take them seven days to arrive in Los Angeles after having already raised over $15 million through their fundraising efforts. For a magical week in June these amazing individuals become a community, spending all day together whether they are cycling or a part of the volunteer crew, we call them Roadies. I am honored and humbled to be part of the AIDS Lifecycle family. This will be my 6th ride. Three times cyclist. Third-time Roadie, shout out to my Rest Stop 4 peeps.
$15 Million and counting as we head into the final few days before AIDS/LifeCycle 2022 rides out!
Thank you and let’s keep it going! 🎉 pic.twitter.com/XwOlg52OEt
— AIDS/LifeCycle (@AIDSLifeCycle) May 31, 2022
Ask anyone who has done the Ride if they liked it and you see their eyes light up. You will hear words like “love bubble” and “on your left.” and “peanut butter and jelly graham crackers.” Ask someone to explain what the Ride is like, and it’s difficult to translate the experiences and the feelings into context for someone who has never done the Ride. It’s like Burning Man. My Burner friends LOVE IT. Some of them talk about it. A LOT. I see their love for it. I listen to their stories but it’s not the same as being there.
AIDS Lifecycle is literally a city built in a new place every day. Every morning we pack it and head to our next location. There are hundreds of people working extremely hard to get us to our next home safely. Food services, Bike Maintenance. Medical Crew. SAG Bus. [Anyone have any guesses as to what a SAG Bus is] Every year I am astounded at the level of planning and dedication of everyone involved. It is a week unlike any other.
Sean Montoya, who travels from Denver to be part of ALC is a Roadie on the Gear and Truck squad answers the ALC tagline, Why We Ride,
“I Ride/Roadie to be a part or something greater than myself. I want to honor to truths of our queer community who have given so much to the fight against HIV/AIDS. And even though the week is crazy busy with tons of work and little sleep, there’s no where I’d rather be. The love bubble revitalizes my soul for the next year. You sent Thank you so much!”
I first signed up in 2008, not knowing a soul doing the Ride, committing to raising the minimum $3,000. I sent letters, had parties to raise money and flew out to California. I had no idea what to expect. And I loved every minute of week. You literally have people saying,
“Yes we wake up at 4am, climb out of the tent in the freezing cold, shower in the truck, go have breakfast, get our biking gear on, drop off our luggage and tent at our gear truck. We leave camp between 6am and 8am. First stop – rest stop 1 probably 14 miles away…after three more rest stops, and a lunch stop you get to camp. Pick up your luggage and tent. Head to dinner in camp.”
The food is really really good btw. And each night there are speakers sharing their stories. One year a woman I met one day was a speaker at night. She talked about how her mom contracted HIV from a blood transfusion in the 80s, and the family kept it a secret. Back in the 80s, this was the gay disease. Somehow her sister and she found out about AIDS Lifecyle and joined it. The amount of love and friendship and support and camaraderie they received literally transformed their lives. People who they could talk to, who understand what they were going to. She ends her speech by introducing her mom, who is now a Roadie herself on the lunch service crew. The applause was thunderous. I thought the tent was going to collapse. Mom gave her own speech the next night. This is just one story of the thousands of stories on this ride.
I joined Rest Stop 4, after riding three times and was ready for a new challenge. Truth be told, I often participate in charity rides and events. Fundraising for me was very difficult. You can only hit up the same people so many times. I made less this year, but again its my 6th time. There is no minimum fundraising amount to be a Roadie. Besides a rest stop was made for me. I love it. Cheer on the riders, serve snacks, do a performance – with choreo – plus daily photo booth daily. Did I mention each day is a different theme complete with outfits? Themes are TOP SECRET until the day of! Here is a collection of past rest stop four themes.
I am constantly in awe of the people on this Ride. I have met 70-year-olds riding for a child lost to AIDS. A married couple on their honeymoon, on a tandem bike. 18-year-olds who have waited years to be old enough to participate. People want to do something good and important. Being a part of something special makes you feel special. Time to pack.
Flight tomorrow. Team Dinner tomorrow night. Ride Out Sunday AM. We ride for those who can’t.