Event raises money for HIV/AIDS services

Davis
resident Sarah Hafer will participate in AIDS/LifeCycle, a seven-day,
545-mile annual cycling event in support of HIV/AIDS services and
education.

Last year’s event boasted more than 2,500 cyclists and roadies and raised over $9 million.

Davis resident Sarah Hafer will participate in AIDS/LifeCycle, a seven-day, 545-mile annual cycling event in support of HIV/AIDS services and education.

Last year’s event boasted more than 2,500 cyclists and roadiesand raised over $9 million.

Each rider is required to raise a minimum of $2,500, though many raise much more. Hafer has raised just over $1,300 so far and has until race day, June 1, to gather the remaining funds.

The event is co-sponsored by Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center (LAGLC) and San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF), both of which helped create AIDS/LifeCycle in 2001 as a way to raise money for their critical and life-saving HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs.

Though 34 years old, Hafer grew up riding her bike often. She has only recently gotten back into cycling.

I finally started cycling again last year and have been going for longer distances, Hafer said. I go once or twice every week and try to do 40 to 65 miles. During the AIDS/LifeCycle ride, it is 80 to 90 miles every day for one week, so I need to train even harder.

Hafer found out about AIDS/LifeCycle from a friend in Oregon, from which she moved last June, she said.

I got fascinated with it and signed up impulsively, Hafer said. I’m riding on a team called Women on a Roll of Los Angeles.

In Davis, Hafer works at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, though she also teaches American Sign Language Linguistics in Sacramento and at Berkeley City College, she said.

As a deaf cyclist, it is easy to imagine difficulties with a traveling event covering ground from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but there will be interpreters at each of the campsites for the hearing impaired.

Another deaf cyclist, Don Baer of San Francisco, is participating in the event for the sixth time, Hafer added.

This is a well-organized event, especially for deaf people, with having interpreters in place already, she said. We usually have to put in a request and struggle to get one set up.

The sources of good organization are the LAGLC and SFAF, which must coordinate the essentially mobile city of about 3,000 people.

Both centers provide a lot of care to people who have HIV and AIDS, as well as in prevention efforts, said LAGLC marketing and communications officer Stevie St. John.

About 1,000 cyclists in the AIDS/LifeCycle event hail from Los Angeles out of the 2,500 total participants, St. John said.

LAGLC provides services including medical testing and treatment for HIV/AIDS, lesbian health care, domestic violence services and provides use of their community center located in Hollywood, Calif., St John said.

The center exists to empower, heal, advocate and lead in the community, she said.

Besides the AIDS/LifeCycle event, LAGLC hosts other major events such as the annual Women’s Night on May 3 at which actress Sharon Stone and singer Linda Perry will be honored, she said.

Stone and Perry have each been active in promoting HIV/AIDS awareness, while Stone has helped raise millions to fight the disease as chair for The Foundation for AIDS Research, according to the LAGLC website, lagaycenter.org.

SFAF spokesperson Davis Ellison, a former teacher, rode in the 2005 AIDS/Lifecycle event and worked as a cycle buddy last year, responsible for preparing about 125 riders.

My job was to assist them in their training and fundraising and to help shepherd them to Day One, Ellison said. It’s a huge commitment of time and energy.

Having immensely enjoyed his experiences at the event and been touched by so many poignant personal stories of riders involved with the event, Ellison now works full time at SFAF.

It’s really something to be alongside and train with people, all of whom are dedicated to something greater than themselves, Ellison said. You may not begin as an [HIV/AIDS] activist, but at the end of the week you are. That’s the experience that everyone who participates has.

There are many other ways to raise $11 million, but the outreach each person has and the community atmosphere of the event make it invaluable, he said.

It serves as a reminder to California that HIV/AIDS is still with us and still deserving of our attention, Ellison said.

To find out more or help Sarah fundraise, go to her homepage at aidslifecycle.org/6880.

AARON BRUNER can be reached at city@californiaaggie.com.