Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Side Trip

Every mile of this journey to end AIDS has been a leap of faith, from where I ride to how I’ll manage the fundraising, route and logistics. I’ve learned to listen for inspiration which always comes and never fails to lead me, with you, exactly where we need to be to move farther down this road and yet I’ve limited myself to a bicycle and this one cause. Fate had a side trip in mind.

In 18 days I’ll clip in again to pedal 180 miles in Obliteride, the first cycling fundraiser put on by the Fred Hutch nonprofit organization to benefit innovative research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, right here in Seattle. I like to think they got this event idea from our friends at Emory Vaccine Center with whom the Hutch partners to lead the world in advancing HIV vaccine research through their networked HIV vaccine trial clinics.

What does cancer research have to do with ending AIDS? Plenty! Many of the same treatments yielding successful results in cancer patients are having a similar positive effect on HIV. People infected with HIV become more susceptible to cancers as the virus begins to compromise their immune system and the HIV+ person with cancer has unique treatment needs.

It was in the middle of an AIDS ride that my Puget Sound Riders teammate, Jon, got word his sister’s cancer had returned. She passed within the year. I remember how scary it was to pray with my good friends Barb and Ernie when their young son was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, fought through it and is now a thriving college student yet still checks in to ensure the cancer hasn’t returned. Ernie picked up road biking for the first time this spring and has made the Obliteride his first cycling fundraiser.  I’m honored to join these two men and the many cycling warriors and volunteers donating their time and energy to bridge the federal funding gap and help sustain cancer cure research at the Hutch.

A side trip may be unplanned and cause you to reach a little deeper in your pocket but sometimes a side trip turns into a shortcut and in my experience a side trip always enhances the journey. I hope you’ll join me in supporting this little side trip and together, by faith and with great hope, we’ll see where this road will lead us.

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