Dear Friends and Family,
We all have our causes. Whether that is supporting cancer research, helping stray animals, or preventing senseless suicides (something that impacted my Dickinson friends and I this past year). People my age grew up with HIV and AIDS, and at that time it was an extremely scary disease. It was basically a death sentence and people attributed it to only the homosexual population.
Times have changed.
Not only is HIV no longer a death sentence (with proper medical care), people can now live a normal lifespan. It is also not just a homosexual or drug abuser virus. It can affect anyone whether you are heterosexual, homosexual or fluid between the two extremes...
My family and I have been personally affected by HIV...I have friends, family and co-workers who have been diagnosed over the years. I have personally seen the devastation that comes with an HIV diagnosis and the hiding and shame that accompanies this. There is still a large percentage of the population that stigmatizes those with HIV and it is time to change that viewpoint. It can happen to anyone! And it is also affecting our young people and kids. 25% of the new infections are young kids between the ages of 13 and 24. We need to raise awareness!
My cause is HIV awareness.
Last year I walked in the 30th Annual AIDS walk in San Francisco. This year I plan to "step it up a notch" by participating in the Red Ribbon Ride July 18-21, 2013. It will be a 300-mile bike ride over four days. To put my previous biking experience into perspective, the most I have ridden in my life is 40 miles when I was 25 (which about did me in!). And I don't even currently own a bike!
I have chosen the team name of Team Ascension, which symbolizes a few things for me... It symbolizes my ascension to a better perspective of life over the past two and a half years as a person. Also, HIV can affect anyone and I want to bring more awareness to everyone through an ascension of HIV awareness.
I've agreed to raise a minimum of $1,500 in donations to participate between now and the Ride. I would greatly appreciate your support. Any donation is tax deductible and it is for an extremely good cause. Donations can be made by visiting my personal page, using the link below, and click on "Make a donation to Neal Navrat." The actual link to make a donation is located above the thermometer showing my progress to my goal. You even have the option of spreading your donation out over time (enter monthly gift amount only, not the total). Please keep in mind that not only will I be riding nearly 300 miles over four days, but I'll be camping in a tent each night!
The proceeds go to benefit eight Minnesota AIDS service organizations including The Aliveness Project, which I plan to begin volunteering at in the next month. The other Minnesota based organizations that benefit from the proceeds include: African American AIDS Task Force, Clare Housing, Hope House of St. Croix Valley, Minnesota AIDS Project, One Heartland, Park House and Rural AIDS Action Network. These agencies provide critical services to those with HIV and at risk of HIV infection. Over 6,500 Minnesotan's are living with HIV. And now, more people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide than ever before. I invite you to be an advocate with me in this effort. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of so many Minnesotans impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Thank you for being in my life. i am truly blessed to have met you.
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