One Million Dollars. By any standard that’s helluva lot of money. And that’s just what the Smart Ride, an annual two day bicycle trek from Miami to Key West, raised this year to help local HIV-related charities.
Unlike some charities where some of the money raised goes to administrative costs the Smart Ride organizers say “100 percent of pledges raised could go back to the communities to be used for direct services.”
Some of the beneficiaries this year include the Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center, Pride Center at Equality Park, Pridelines Youth Services, AIDS Help, and the Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach County.
“It gets better every year with everyone being so helpful and coming together as a community, people offering support even when they don’t know you,” said Rusty Obanion, who raised $1,800 this year and was a part of the Let’s Roll Bitches team. This is his fifth year participating in the ride.Another participant this year Kristofer Fegenbush, Chief Operating Officer of the Pride Center at Equality Park, rode with the Pride Center’s team. They raised $96,000.
“What a week! I sweat, laughed, peddled, cheered and wept for days. My legs are tired, my voice is shot and my heart is full of love. I’ll never forget standing at the Key West pier, hand in hand with a team that represents the diverse communities we serve: gay and straight; men and women; HIV-positive and –negative; youth and senior; couples and singles; brown, white, black. I stand humbled, grateful and amazed by the generosity, dedication and passion of so many,” Fegenbush said. “We wouldn’t be able to provide our wide variety of vital, significant, strategic, impactful HIV programs as a Center without the SMART Ride. These dollars save lives. I want donors, riders, crew members and volunteers to know this. Already this year, the SMART Ride has helped The Center fund three major initiatives: 1. Our Healthcare Navigator who links people daily to life-saving medical care; 2.Our cutting-edge CouplesSpeak program that builds relationship skills, lowers risk and improves communication and; 3. Enhancements to our HIV Counseling and Testing program that will provide more than 5,000 HIV tests to community members in 2013.”
1. Timothy Haymon $23,100
2. Gabriel Hernandez $21,800
3. Michael Miller $16,156
4. Andrea Weinzimer $13,131
5. David Mittleman $10,611
6. Isabela Melancon $10,345
7. Ed Pascoe $10,230
8. Julie Slater $9,483
9. Dave Fletcher $9,050
10. Chris Caputo $8,769
1. SoBe SAFE Riders $123,641
2. Pride Pack $95,937
3. Palm Beach Bike Jockeys $68,314
4. The Village Pub VIPs $50,119
5. Team St Pete $43,928