Seven Florida agencies benefitted from the 2016 SMART Ride.
In a ceremony Jan. 14 at the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, more than $1 million was disbursed to agencies providing services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Leading the way was AIDS Help of Key West, a legacy organization for the SMART Ride, followed by Pridelines Miami, Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center, Broward House, Compass Community Center, Miracle of Love and Metro Health, Wellness & Community Centers.
Metro Health, Wellness & Community Centers has served the Tampa Bay area since 1993.
“We had tremendous growth out of the Tampa/St. Pete area,” said Glen Weinzimer, Founder of SMART Ride. “We had 37 new riders from Tampa/St. Pete and people were surprised, but what we found out was they had four new captains and those captains did a great job of convincing their friends and social networks to volunteer and get involved.”
The 13th edition of SMART Ride was special for Weinzimer in that the ride launched from the University of Miami in Coral Gables.
“That gave us a new level of creditability,” Weinzimer said. “Leaving from a university also shines a light on the fact that the largest demographic of new (HIV) infections are 16 to 24-year-olds.”
Because of the change in Washington, Weinzimer said community organizations will be called on more than ever to deliver services to those in need. When he gave his speech in Key West at the end of the 2016 ride, Weinzimer said he did not think Donald J. Trump would be elected President.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty now,” Weinzimer said. “There’s concern about Ryan White funding and the Affordable Care Act. What are they going to scrub? What about the pre-existing conditions rule? This is why it’s important for people to get involved in things they care about in their community and not let those in need fall through the cracks.”
The annual 165-mile cycling event from Miami to Key West returns for its 14th edition this November. For more information, visit www.thesmartride.org