Pedaling to Stop an Epidemic: AIDS LifeCycle
The first thing you think is “That’s a lot of bikes!”
Snaking their way over rambling mountains, along pristine coastal cliffs, and through towering western evergreens, the cyclists pedaled mile after arduous mile.
They were a group of 2,500 people, including 18 riders with Team FedEx, who rode bicycles together for 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. They were a part of the AIDS LifeCycle, raising over $16 million to support AIDS testing and treatment through the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
AIDS: What was once an almost certain death sentence is now treatable through screenings and medication. A little known fact is that if an infected person is treated with an antiretroviral therapy regimen, the risk of transmitting the virus to an uninfected person is reduced by 96%.
It’s not just a disease of the 80’s and 90’s. There are over 1.1 million people living in the United States with HIV/AIDS, and more than 50,000 will become newly infected this year alone.
However, if treated properly, HIV-positive people can expect to live full, healthy, productive lives; just as long as their HIV-negative peers.
The lead corporate sponsor for the AIDS LifeCycle, FedEx provided a cash donation and in-kind shipping from FedEx Freight, as well as in-kind printing from FedEx Office. This is the 10th year for support from FedEx for the LifeCycle, and the most noticeable presence was Team FedEx, a group of riders and roadies who raised over $100,000 for LifeCycle.
Led by team captain Louie Butler III, these riders, like many of the LifeCycle riders, were inspired to ride and motivated by friends, family, and loved ones lost to the disease.
Butler, a FedEx HR Advisor, said, “This is my 10th time to do the LifeCycle and every year it makes my heart swell to hear spectators cheering ‘Go FedEx!’ when they see our jerseys come through their town.”
Patrick Wolf, manager of hub operations for FedEx Express in Oakland, dedicated his ride to his friend Michael who always wore a smile and had only kind words to say. Michael died in 2009 of liver cancer associated with HIV, and Patrick has now completed his 7th LifeCycle ride because “no one should ever have to lose someone like him.”
For many of the riders, this is the very first time they have attempted something like this. As they made their way down the California coast, the route took them through small towns and large, through fields of artichokes and along the majestic Pacific Coast Highway. Scattered along the way were people from all walks of life, stopped on the side of the road to cheer them on.
“It’s like being a part of a 545 mile long rolling billboard promoting awareness that we can stop this disease,” said Kirby Wood, District Manager for FedEx Office in southern California. This was Kirby’s 3rd LifeCycle, and he marveled that “the LifeCycle community is so supporting and encouraging. This ride has taught me a lot about myself and about my neighbors.”
Team captain Louie Butler summed it up by adding, “This ride is long and those hills can be daunting, but we just think about our individual motivations, and just sing our way up that hill and on to the next one.”
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