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AIDS LifeCycle: Honoring Memory of Friends & Fundraising for the Future

June 5, 2017

Photo on the front of bike honoring friend lost to AIDS

There’s a photo on the front of my bike this week. It’s a picture of my old friend Scott.

Scott Chirila was my wife’s best friend in high school. He was sharp, funny, and one of the nicest people I have ever met. Throughout high school, everyone thought Scott and my wife Gayle would end up getting married and live happily ever after, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Scott was gay, and he died of AIDS in 1991.

We all grew up together in Missouri before Scott moved off to LA in the mid-1980’s to follow his dreams. He worked at the University of Southern California in their grant department and loved everything about living in Los Angeles.

In 1987 we moved to Brea, California with our three-week old son, Teague. Initially, Scott was the only person we knew in the area, and he quickly introduced us to his wide circle of friends.

Brea is in Orange County, which was a pretty traditional place. Whether our friends knew any or many gay people I don’t recall, but they welcomed Scott and his friends to our birthday celebrations for Teague, going to the beach for bonfires, and lots of other slices of life.

AIDS Quilt section featuring Scott ChirilaWe knew little about HIV/AIDS at the time, and Scott’s diagnosis was obviously devastating. We had all just turned 30 at the time and I don’t wish losing a best friend like that to anyone, regardless of age. Scott refused to let anyone be in denial, so we all lived in a very transparent and candid world during that time.

My wife and I were his primary care providers for a period of time prior to his death.

We were even more devastated when many of these new-found friends began to be diagnosed with either HIV or AIDS. One by one, along with Scott, we attended too many memorial services for friends lost to this disease. Les Miserables was his favorite play and he felt the song “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” really described well what he and his friends were going through.

Shortly after his death, along with help from a wonderful friend and incredible seamstress, Heidi, we created a panel for Scott on the AIDS quilt, with his favorite quote from his beloved Les Miserables. Scott only lived into his early 30’s but the quote on the quilt panel summed up what was a very full, though short, life – “No Song Unsung, No Wine Untasted”

These were still the early days of HIV/AIDS, and, as previously mentioned, we also lived, worked, and attended church in an area where very, very few people understood HIV/AIDS. Without intending to do so, before long we became educators on the subject repeatedly during that time, trying to calm fears and help provide knowledge on what can be a very scary topic.

AIDS LifeCycle 2017 start: Team FedExSince then I’ve lived in several different places, and Memphis is now my home. But my experience with the early days of this terrible disease inspired me to join Team FedEx in the 2017 AIDS LifeCycle, a 545-mile fundraising bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

This is the single largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the world, raising funds for awareness and HIV/AIDS services. Team FedEx has supported AIDS LifeCycle for the past 12 years, raising about $100,000 each year.

Follow along with almost 30 cyclists and roadies of Team FedEx as we join more than 3,000 riders in this year’s AIDS LifeCycle.

This year I’m riding for Scott.

Check out the Team FedEx animated tracking map below created by SenseAware, a FedEx Innovation.

AIDS LifeCycle animated route map


Comments

    Blake Barbosa says:

    What a beautiful tribute to Scott! I wish I could have met him!

    Blake Barbosa says:

    Thank you all for your fundraising efforts! You are good people!!

    Ron Acosta says:

    Thank you for a great story. We lost a a lot of people to this disease before we could even talk about it. I am praying for you and support you. God’s speed.

    Teressa Brenneman says:

    I also had a friend with AIDS. Thank you for riding for all of them.

    Robert Anderson says:

    I would like to buy a fedex Jersey that would be my way to Help out a Great Way

    Tyffany Tolar says:

    Thank you- for participating in the AIDS LifeCycle, for representing FedEx in raising funds for HIV/AIDS awareness & services, for honoring the life of your dear friend, and, mostly, for speaking so eloquently about a topic that most people don’t discuss in the workplace.
    Thank you, from a FedEx employee who has lost loved ones to this disease and who knows too many people who are currently living with it. THANK YOU!

    Robert Medlin says:

    Dale, your story truly touched me. I too lost many friends and loved ones to this dreadful disease in the late 80s and early 90s. I will be with you in spirit when you ride on June 10th!

    Bob Wright says:

    That is a great thing to ride for. I didn’t know there was a Team FedEx. Aids is great thing to raise money and awareness for. I would be interested in possibly riding for the team next year. I ride in Pelotonia every year to raise money for cancer research, and would love to wear a FedEx jersey. I would love to see other FedEx members ride. Thank you for representing FedEx well. Hope to join you some day. Bob Wright

    Matthew Tuma says:

    I am an avid cyclist and will be participating in an MS ride. There is an option for a team and FedEx is listed in the drop box for companies. Can someone tell me if there is an option for broader FedEx participation? I am in DENV/802.

    Phillip Glover says:

    Great tribute and story Dale! I appreciate what you and the other riders are doing. Ride on…

    Jane Mejia Barr says:

    You GO Dale! Scott is smiling down at you!!

    Jeff Grimm says:

    Inspiring story and noble efforts from the FedExers. Would love to learn more about Team FedEx and get information on the ride. Just like many of the posts so far, many people in our FXG-PGH Family may be interested to support cause and ride. – Jeff

    Gail Dickson says:

    Dale,

    Thank you for sharing. I to remember loosing a close friend way too early. Looking forward to a follow up of your ride on Saturday 🙂

    Christy Gonzales says:

    Thank you for sharing this and for riding to honor those lost to this tragic disease.

    Anonymous says:

    Awesome! Stay safe on your ride and thanks for sharing.
    Curt

    Christine Sweeney says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. A beautiful tribute. And thank you for riding and participating in this great event.

    Cindy Akins says:

    It makes me so proud to have a leader in my direct work group that has such a big heart and compassion for others. Thank you Dale for riding for this much needed cause! And thank you for sharing your story. It truly touched me and gives me hope for mankind.

    John Dolan says:

    The most remarkable part of this story is your valor in caring for a person living with end-stage AIDS in the 1980’s, a time when many would not even shake hands or hug someone because of a false but understandable fear of a new disease. Ensuring your friend did not die alone and forsaken like so many was truly the greatest gift. I salute your courage and heroism, Dale.

    Emmanuel Paliungas says:

    Dale

    What a great tribute and such a worthy cause.

    I run a non-profit called Bicycle Angels (www.bicycleangels.com). We loan suitable bicycles to participants of charity events like, ALC, who do not have one to use for their training and event. There is no charge, we just ask the bike be returned in the same or better condition than what it was borrowed. We have loaned our bikes to over 500 participants of 13 different charities and they have raised over $1.25 million dollars for those charities. We have locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. At present we have over 75 bikes out to ALC 2017. Next year, if you know of people that want to do ALC 2018 and are in need of a bike, have them get a hold of me at “manuel@bicycleangels.com”.

    Emmanuel Paliungas says:

    Sorry, forgot to mention, I will be at the ALC 2017 Finish Line with our Bicycle Angels booth. Please come by and say hi.

    Todd Boys says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’d really like to join Team FedEx for this event in the future. Just another reason I’m proud to be part the FedEx family.

    Lisa Bogle says:

    What a great way to honor your friend and make sure he continues to live on. Thank you for all you are doing and have done to bring awareness to this disease.

    SABRINA SUITE says:

    This is what the true culture of humanity is all about. You have made him proud!

    Traci White says:

    Great tribute to Scott. Are you riding again next year? I would love to ride next year!

    Dave Lusk says:

    Dale,
    I’ve watched with great interest as the team carried the flag for the many friends and loved ones we have known and lost over the decades to AIDS. My wife and I have lost so many friends over the past 30 years we use to fly with at Flying Tigers. Thank you and the rest of the FedEx team for riding for them.

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