SMART Ride beneficiaries gathered at Hunters Nightclub on Jan. 9 to receive their portion of the funds raised from this past year’s SMART Ride 18.
On the TV monitors throughout the club there were pictures of the event, photos of hugs, overwhelming joy and a satisfied look from the participants who knew they were making a difference in this world.
“It seemed to everyone in those photos that some sense of normalcy had returned to the world, despite COVID still being present,” said Glen Weinzimer, Founder of the event.
SMART Ride is a 165-mile bicycle ride from Miami to Key West. The annual event attracts over 700 participants including volunteers (crew) and raises money for HIV/AIDS in Florida. The event attracted individuals from across the nation who flew in to participate. SMART Ride is unique to fundraising in that it guarantees 100% of all funds raised by the participants will go back to AIDS Service Organizations in Florida.
Since 2003 that has amounted to over $13.9 million. Last year alone they raised $1.25 million. SMART Ride is the second-largest AIDS bicycle ride in the country and the only one to make this 100% guarantee. The money raised goes towards direct services, education, and care for those infected, affected or at risk for HIV/AIDS in Florida. Despite all the roadblocks that appeared this year because of COVID, the team remained focused on continuing to make a difference.
The contributions to charities included $182,000 to Miracle of Love; $280,000 to AH of Monroe County; $206,734 to Pridelines; $205,208 to Compass; and $226,280 to Broward House.
In addition, each year, up to 10% of the total raised from the SMART Ride is set aside so the organization can support other agencies throughout Florida that provide services for those living with HIV/AIDS or helping to prevent the spread of this disease. The money raised can be used to help pay for co-payments on insurance, help offset the cost of transportation to and from a doctor, pharmacy, or food bank. It will also be used to educate those at risk, especially those in underserved communities.
SMART Ride is supported by CAN Community Health, its title sponsor and other organizations large and small to help pay for the event. SMART Ride 19 is scheduled for Nov. 18 and 19, to join the event visit www.theSMARTRide.org.