Help Me Make My Difference.
As many of you know, last year I participated in my first ever fundraising bike ride - the Red Ribbon Ride, a 4 day, 300 mile bike ride to raise money to support HIV services in the metro area. I entered that endeavor with few expectations - mostly with a resolve to avenge my own bike accident earlier that fall which left me in the hospital for a week and rendered me foolhearty enough to challenge my body and prove to myself that I was capable of it.
What I found out once I actually got on the ride was that there was much more to it than just biking. There certainly is a lof of biking to it, but there is also community. I experienced plenty of encouragement, blisters, shivering in the rain for miles, and lots and lots of corn. I experienced on the ride the determination, indefatigable resolve, and lighthearted spirit I know so well that characterizes the HIV community. Community in this sense being an amalgam of people living with HIV, families and friends affected by HIV, and providers, all bearing witness to a spirit not able to be forgotten. I embark on this ride because I see this community confronting the systematic attempts to silence marginalized peoples, saying loudly and clearly, "we will not be exterminated!" Not our gay brothers and sisters. Not our trans men and women and gender nonconforming folks. Not people of color dually targeted. Not those for whom a gross identity generalization undermines a lifetime a self discovery and hard-fought self-acceptance. Not those who health departments have designated as "high risk populations." Not today and not ever. This is why I ride.
Perhaps my most memorable experience was when I finished my ride at the Capitol and I began sobbing uncontrollably. I can't quite place why exactly I was crying, though I speculate there were many emotions at work. I was terminating all I knew for 4 days. I was reminded on the human resolve to survive in difficult situations. I believe I too was overwhelmed with the intense support that existed amongst the paticipants who cheered everyone on and who commited to continue this community after the ride was over.
This year I'm embarking on the Red Ribbon Ride once more and would be deeply humbled if you would join me by providing some financial support to achieving my fundraising goal of $1,981.
Why $1,981? Thats the year of the first HIV diagnosis, 1981. 35 years later and we're still fighting this virus.
Interested in donating? Let me offer some meaningful numbers, so that your contribution might leave you with not just that warm fuzzy feeling, but also something to chew on...
$550 - People over the age of 55 represent one quarter of all people living with HIV and represents a growing population, one that many providers are ill-prepared to be serving. Many people in that age group did not plan for old age. No retirement, no 401K, underemployment, you get the picture.
$369 - 36.9 Million people living with HIV globally
$300 - Number of miles biked. Also represents the number of new HIV diagnoses this year in MN (307 last year)
$230 - $23,000 is the average anual cost of ARV treatment for an individual living with HIV
$135 - 13.5% - Female sex workers are 13.5 times more likely to be living with HIV than other women
$79 - $0.79 is the cost of one sterile needle. These are provided free of charge to people seeking sterile needles at the Minnesota AIDS Project (one of the beneficiaries and my employer) and help people protect themselves and their communities when using IDUs
$49 - Women represent 49% of all people living with HIV today
$35 - The number of years since the first HIV diagnosis. We're a lot closer to a cure today, however, we're also seeing things we never would have expected before. A lifetime of HIV treatment does a number on the body. HIV is manageable, but continues to be a chronic condition that takes a toll.
Yours in peace and power,
My Personal Web Log
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