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If there is such a thing as a role model for resilience, one needs to look no further than Wilton Manors Commissioner Chris Caputo.

Caputo peddled down to Key West last weekend as a participant in the annual SMART Ride. This year marked the 18th edition of the cycling event that raises money for HIV/AIDS service organizations in Florida.

For Caputo, the ride is personal.

“Today marks the completion of my 10th SMART Ride and 1,650 miles later, I am still living with HIV,” Caputo told SFGN on Saturday. “We haven’t been able to fully prevent new infections, let alone cure the disease. People in our most marginalized communities continue to die due to a lack of access to care and education. It’s heartbreaking. There is more work to be done. We can’t stop before the finish line, so each year we ride and every year I am glad I did.”

Over $1.2 million was raised this year, organizers announced. Glen Weinzimer, SMART Ride Founder, said more than 10,000 people donated this year and the event met its fundraising goal with fewer volunteers and participants than years past. 

Caputo, Weinzimer said, is a joy to work with. 

“I’ve known Chris for over 15 years and I’ve watched him grow and seen him mature,” Weinzimer said. “He’s always been a caring and giving person and a cheerleader for everybody.”

First diagnosed with HIV in 2012, Caputo said he cried it out but then got to work. He put his tech skills to good use to provide local agencies and businesses with software, web design and marketing. His energy, Weinzimer said, is infectious. 

“People are drawn to him,” Weinzimer said. “He’s like a little jackrabbit. There are leaders and there are followers and Chris is most certainly a leader.”

At 40 Caputo is the youngest member of the Wilton Manors Commission. He is frequently seen running or cycling around town and has pushed for more pedestrian-friendly development.

“All the things he does I don’t know how he finds the time,” Weinzimer said. “He’s amazing at multitasking.”

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