Before I left for my first AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) ride three years ago, a friend of mine gave me a silver box with a beautiful hand-beaded AIDS ribbon pin inside. She explained that the pin was actually a gift to her years ago by a man dying of AIDS.
Back in the '90s, fresh out of receiving her degree in social work to become a counselor, the only place that wanted to hire my friend, a fortysomething recent college grad, was the Cedars Sinai AIDS ward. She would spend a few years there counseling the sick, helping many prepare for the sadly inevitable and then support those families who needed a shoulder. Today she still says it was the most transformative experience of her life.
So upon hearing of my first ride years ago, she wanted to pass along this gift that a patient had once given her. As someone who is fortunate enough (and of a generation) to not personally have lost someone to this disease, this pin reminds me of the all of those so many have lost, and of the potential loss all of us in the ALC community (including those of you who donated to both riders and roadies) fight so hard to prevent . So every morning at Day 1 each year, I place the pin on the front of my bike and ride with it proudly and with great respect, offering just a bit more perspective during this incredible week.
As for my friend, she eventually lost her job but for the best possible reason: the hospital eventually no longer needed an AIDS ward. The medical crisis is thankfully no where near what it was decades ago, but for me, the ALC family is carrying that torch of support and advocacy until AIDS is truly no more.
So, will you join us next year and help us ride to end AIDS? Registration is now open for AIDS/LifeCycle 2014. Enter discount code "INSTINCT50" at http://www.aidslifecycle.org/register to receive a special $50 registration–through June 24!