Saturday, August 2, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday. I’ve quit trying to avoid this milestone of aging that explains the more obvious wrinkles, thicker middle and rotten eyesight. Instead, I embrace the celebration of having not only survived another year but lived it to the fullest. In doing so, this day is spent less on thoughts of gifts received throughout the year and so many of those have been from you.

I had numerous reasons to dread hauling my bike to Atlanta this spring. A hectic travel schedule left little time to train and even less attention paid to fundraising but you came through just the same and your gifts made to further HIV/AIDS research at Emory University, more than $163,000, made every mile of the AIDS Vaccine 200 well worth the effort and sore muscles!

Puget Sound Riders AV200 Team
Before leaving Atlanta, our team of Puget Sound Riders, 3 cyclists and 2 veteran volunteers, was gifted by a personal tour of Yerkes Primate Research Center at Emory, where several of the scientists and researchers funded by your generous donations enthusiastically shared their work. I wish you could experience their gratitude for this annual cycling event. $163,000 is absolutely a drop in the bucket considering the amount of funding required to fight a pandemic but the bucket cannot be filled without that first drop and the seed money supplied by your donations is vital for getting new ideas off the ground and qualified for larger grant funding.

Grad students in Dr. Rama Amara’s lab are finding the pro-biotic benefits of yogurt may make that widely available dairy product a more effective delivery mechanism for HIV drug treatments.
Dr. Rama Amara gives a thumbs up to the AV200!
Dr. Steven Bosinger, gifted HIV scientist and budding cyclist
Dr. Steven Bosinger (who cycled the 2013 AV200) eagerly demonstrated new equipment capable of processing tests and data thousands of times faster than outdated models. Dr. John Altman also thinks so highly of this event that he joined us on the road last year and regretted not having the training time to ride again this May. Alas, we each have gifts to bring to this journey and we assured him that ours were of little use without his time well spent on strengthening T cells.

The Emory Vaccine Center reminds me each May of the interdependent nature of medical research when I hear HIV/AIDS scientists celebrate the defeat of Hepatitis C and share studies of crossover testing of cancer drugs on HIV. This birthday I especially miss the annual call from a dear friend who recently lost his battle to pancreatic cancer and remember what comfort it brought that his cancer doc and HIV doc worked so closely together on his care. It inspires me to stretch my gifts a little wider and find more ways to give. Thank you for joining me on this ride and bringing hope to the journey.

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
― John Wesley

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