Thanksgiving to World AIDS Day

Thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the power of a virus to ravage lives. Thank you for extending compassion to every human being, protec...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I Smell the Barn!

smell the barn
(chiefly US, idiomatic) to experience heightened anticipation or to act with renewed speed or energy as one approaches a destination, goal, or other desired outcome, like a livestock animal at day’s end returning to its barn

One of my fellow Puget Sound Riders is a very fast cyclist who never lets a teammate lag far behind. He waits for slower riders at every tricky intersection and at the top of every hill but all bets are off within 5 miles of the finish line. You can practically see the jet stream off his back wheel as he flies to the finish.

It’s been 19 years since my first appeal for financial and emotional support of communities at risk of and affected by HIV/AIDS. The combination of these targeted efforts resulted in AIDS service organizations equipped to meet the needs of a community once dedicated to end-of-life care, now evolved to enhance the quality of a longer life after an HIV diagnosis. By the turn of the century, you joined me in shifting attention to HIV vaccine research, specifically to raise the small but mighty seed money needed to test pioneering ideas for fighting HIV/AIDS by small labs of cutting-edge scientists and prominent institutions in order to qualify the most promising ideas for much larger grant funding. Our smallest event, the 2012 Stealth Ride, generated a tidy sum that proved just enough to keep the doors of Dr. Yuntao Wu’s lab open long enough to complete the application netting a $3.3 million NIH grant – enough to take his “Trojan Horse” strategy for curing AIDS to the next level of trials. The sole beneficiary of our most ambitious 2002 Breakthrough Ride, UCSF’s AIDS Research Institute, was recently chosen to receive the largest grant ever awarded by the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) to cure HIV—$20 million.

Research kindled by your contributions has led to the introduction of highly effective HIV prevention drugs, crossover advances to cure hepatitis C and fight cancer. The fast-tracked cancer treatment, Keytruda, recently undertaken by President Jimmy Carter with great success, was based on PD-1 research conducted over 15 years of HIV vaccine studies at the Emory Vaccine Center; research directly funded by donors to the AIDS Vaccine 200 and Charity Treks and earlier AIDSRides.

Friends, I smell the barn.

May 12th, my bike and I will be back at Emory University to turn up the spotlight on AIDS awareness. We’ll join participants in the annual AIDS Vaccine 200 cycling event, representing the HIV/AIDS research contributions of hundreds of donors over the next 200 miles of this journey which, much like pedaling the Georgia countryside, has had its steep climbs, tiresome headwinds, inspiring messages, threatening weather, comforting colleagues and glorious victories that are more frequent and promising. It’s an exciting time to enter the homestretch of the battle against HIV and see the light of an AIDS cure ahead. My jet-fueled teammate always beats me in that sprint over the last few miles but he also leads our team in a tradition I extend to each person joining us on this journey—we cross the finish line together.

Your donation of any amount to the 2016 AIDS Vaccine 200 is humbly appreciated. Participant registration fees, corporate matching funds and sponsorships secured by the producing non-profit, Action Cycling Atlanta, pay all event and administrative costs so that 100% of your donation is applied directly toward funding HIV/AIDS research at Emory Vaccine Center to stop HIV and cure AIDS, together.