Mary McCarthy – Why I Ride Project

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Why I Ride Project - Brent Dundore Photography

“I crew for Rural AIDS Action Network.

Mary McCarthy (Executive Director – RAAN)

This is my 3rd year participating.

Why do you Red Ribbon Ride? I Red Ribbon Ride to make a difference – I want to help however I can.  The riders make an commitment to the Ride that I never fully understood until I participated.  It’s easy to say I can’t do 300 miles in four days – especially if you haven’t been on a bike in too many years.  I did see the amount of work that went on behind the scenes and realized I could do that.  Last year I planned to just do a couple of days (had other commitments as many of us do) – I ended up staying for the whole ride and am so glad that I did!  To see the riders coming in each day, rain or shine, and be almost as tired as they must have been felt like an accomplishment.  By the closing ceremony you really do feel like you’ve been part of this incredible journey, along with 300 plus of your best, smelliest friends.

What do you do away from the Red Ribbon Ride? When I’m away from the Ride I work and continue to move toward being an empty nester so have lots of home projects going on right now.

What is your favorite thing about the Red Ribbon Ride? The ceremonies.  I love ceremonies and the opening and closing reinforce the reason we ride.  Brings back lots of great memories, especially of those who are no longer here to ride with us.

How were you introduced to Red Ribbon Ride?  The Red Ribbon Ride started right about the same time I began working in the HIV field.  I went to the opening ceremony for years and was always touched and reinvigorated.

What is one great memory you can share from your ride/crew experience in the past? Last year I spoke at the Opening Ceremony – I was terrified!  I spoke about women and the impact HIV has one them in particular.  I also dedicated RAAN’s participation on the Ride to Connie Statz.  I learned shortly after I gave that speech that she had passed away that morning.  So may not think of that as a great memory but it is for me – Connie, David and others who I’ve known over the years are the reason I Red Ribbon Ride.

What would you tell someone who is on the fence about joining our ride next year? Riders would love to do this ride – it’s Minnesota in the summer – who wouldn’t love it!  Anyone else?  I would say it’s one of the best times you’ll have working to support a cause that still needs attention.  [Our numbers of new infections are not going down so we still have a lot of work to do to reduce stigma for those who are living with HIV.]

What person or group of people are you hoping to bring to the ride this next year? Every year I hope that we get more folks from outside of the metro area involved!

What is your fundraising goal this year? $1,000!  I’m SO thankful to RRR staff for fundraising training!  Hoping to exceed the goal by getting the word out there to everyone I can.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our Red Ribbon Ride community? Thank you riders and crew!  Can’t wait for the Ride


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