Annual event raises almost $1 million

A small and dedicated band of activists once again ensured hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for HIV/AIDS services.

The 12th Annual SMART Ride (Southern Most AIDS/HIV Ride) concluded Nov. 15 with 383 riders and 280 crew members participating on the two-day trek from Miami to Key West. The cycling event generated more than $967,000, said founder Glen Weinzimer.

“It exceeded my expectations,” Weinzimer told SFGN via telephone Monday afternoon. “It was the hottest ride ever. Friday was very, very hot, but it was a safe ride and we raised a ton of money. The amount of services we’ll be able to provide will be amazing.”

Weinzimer, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1993, described this year’s ride as one of personal stories as riders and crew members shared why they are involved. Hearing this human impact of why they are drawn together is important, said Weinzimer.

To punctuate this point, Weinzimer used a quote from noted American anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Beneficiaries from this year’s SMART Ride include: AIDS Help Monroe County, Pridelines Youth Services in Dade County, Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Centers, Comprehensive Family AIDS Program in Broward County, Broward House, CAP/Foundcare in Palm Beach County, Miracle Love of Orlando and Metro Wellness and Community Centers in Tampa/St. Petersburg.

In 12 years, SMART Ride has raised more than $7.3 million for HIV/AIDS services. This year alone, the ride received more than 8,000 individual donations.

“I am extremely grateful to the community at large,” Weinzimer said.