As some of you may know, I recently participated in the 7th Annual California AIDS Lifecycle Ride, biking with 2,500 other cyclists and 500 volunteers on a 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles. My participation in this event helped raise a record $11.6 million, more than any other annual HIV/AIDS fundraising event in the world. The ride helped raise necessary resources devoted to prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS, along with fighting the misconception that HIV and AIDS are no longer a problem due to medical advances. Riders and volunteers from all over the world joined together to make it known that we will never stop riding until we overcome this devastating epidemic.
While on the ride, I came across the HIV Endeavor for Reaching Out (HERO) Creed, written by one of the ride's veteran cyclists. The creed does an excellent job summarizing what I experienced while participating:
I have risen before dawn in this fight against AIDS. I’ve rallied family, friends and strangers to support me in this fight. I’ve spent mornings, afternoons and weekends training for those who can’t. I have spent hundreds of dollars on equipment, clothing and energy bars. I have learned hand signals, how to clip in, and the importance of stopping at every stop sign. I have yelled “Car Up!,” “Car Back!,” and “On Your Left!” approximately one million times. I’ve raised thousands of dollars to support the well being of someone else’s life. I have learned that if I don’t talk about HIV, to prevent it from spreading, who will? I will stand in line with my closest friends for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and to use the bathroom. I will ride side by side with them for the same cause. I will spend a week sleeping in a tent, eating in a tent, and showering in a truck. I will make over two thousand new and interesting friends while raising public awareness of HIV/AIDS. I will laugh out loud and cry with them. I will dedicate a week of my life to improve someone else’s. I will do things with my body I did not think I could do. I will boldly show the world how strongly I believe in this cause. I will ride my bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise awareness and money in the fight against HIV/AIDS. I am a California AIDS/Lifecyclist. I am a HERO.
- J. Rhodes Perry