Monday, June 21, 2010

Rear View Mirror

2009 was a headwind; a relentless gale that stopped forward motion and set far too many reeling at their losses. I took my turn at unemployment, went back to clipping coupons and started investigating formerly unheard of options like “walking away from a mortgage.” Cyclists quickly learn the best way to catch a break against a headwind is to fall in behind another cyclist. I’m grateful to those whose support gave me shelter to regain my strength.

The pause gave me time to look around. Disease, disaster, poverty know no headwind. Annie lost her job and made plans to swim for pancreatic cancer research. Shawna walked for breast cancer and a half dozen more spent weekends training for Leukemia & Lymphoma triathlons. Ian, Tony and Suellen cycled for AIDS services on separate coasts while Scotty and Dave rode to fight cancer. Two friends took time off to help Haiti earthquake victims and a greater than expected share of fellow job-seekers expressed the not terribly lucrative desire to explore non-profit careers.

I lowered my fund-raising expectations for the first time in 15 years and was humbled by your generous response. Generosity doesn’t always come in the form of a big check. You gave from the heart despite your own headwinds and I was inspired.

This fall, I’ll repeat the 330-mile cycling journey from NYC to Washington, DC in support of Dr. Yuntao Wu’s innovative HIV-fighting research at George Mason University. I’m back because I believe Dr. Wu will end AIDS. His research led to the discovery of how HIV gets into T cells, causing them to die. Now Dr. Wu is zeroing in on short-term therapies that help T cells recognize this deadly virus and keep it out. When T cells don’t die, the immune system never degenerates to AIDS. How cool is that?!

Dr. Wu’s theories to stop HIV are proven and his dedication to the fight is as solid as his commitment last summer to participate in the bike shoes of a cyclist along the eastern seaboard, headwinds and all.
Times are still tough, but I won’t lower my expectations for I finally see what you saw. Even as we duck behind others to carry us past the brunt of the storm, a quick glance in the rear view mirror reveals a long line of others counting on us to do the same.

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