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“I ride to promote we are all HIV EQUAL.”
Roosevelt – This is my 3rd year participating in the Red Ribbon Ride.
Why do you Red Ribbon Ride? I crew to raise awareness around prevention and stigma. I came out in the late 80’s and was terrified to death about HIV/AIDS. They didn’t even know what it was back then. I remember bartending through college and saw the fast devastating effects of HIV/AIDS. In those days, when you were diagnosed, the illness came on fast and furious. I was saddened by the loss of many friends in those early days. I also remember how fear created this phobia towards people who were infected. They were ostracized by society and even our own community. Looking back now, I never thought we would be where we are today. However, two things still remain; new infections and stigma.
First, a new infection can be prevented. Get tested. Knowing your status protects you and others.
Secondly, about stigma. We talk about being equal but when it comes to HIV/AIDS there is still that fear that breeds ignorance and a sense of inequality amongst us.
I hope that through my participation I would empower someone to get tested and for others to lead with compassion rather than condemnation when it comes to HIV status.
What is your favorite thing about the Red Ribbon Ride? Being part of the welcome crew at base camp. I want to encourage riders as they come off their long weary rides. I want someone to look at me and say “because of your encouragement, I didn’t give up!”
How were you introduced to Red Ribbon Ride? I originally started volunteering in Austin, TX for The Hill Country Ride for AIDS as a pit captain. There I had won for “Best Pit Theme” for our Military Hotness pit. It was a blast and when I moved to Minneapolis and heard about the RRR, I knew I had to get involved again. This will be my second year and I’m looking forward to another great time with great friends.
What do you do away from the Red Ribbon Ride? When I am not doing yoga sculpt or working with others, you can find me at The Aliveness Project. We are 1 of the 8 benefiting agencies of the ride. What I love about my work at The Aliveness Project is that under our roof, we are all equal. We dine together, we laugh, we cry; but most of all we support each other. We empower our folks through our services of prevention, health and case management. Sometimes the smallest of gesture of kindness can make a world of difference for someone who may be fighting a battle we know nothing about.
What would you tell someone who is on the fence about joining our ride next year? Never underestimate the power of the human spirit. You will be surprised at what we can accomplish when we put our hearts behind what we love to do. And if you don’t ride, you can always crew. There are many ways we can participate and still make a difference.
What person or group of people are you hoping to bring to the ride this next year? I am looking to bring in all those folks who are looking to make a difference but may not know where and how. Because the RRR benefits 8 different agencies you can make a bigger difference across many AIDS Services Organizations.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our Red Ribbon Ride community? I would first thank the community for their loyal support. Folks do this year after year for the love of the cause. I challenge folks to get involved, visit the agencies that benefit from the Red Ribbon Ride. See first-hand where the funds go. How the sweat of those 300 miles can turn into hundreds of meals, services and testing. Changing and empowering lives, one mile at a time.