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...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Unfinished Business

We’re late for our plane but have to rush back for the pamphlets. People need to know! – December 1994

Bret put a massive effort into educating everyone he knew and testing every new treatment introduced in those most desperate early days in the fight against HIV/AIDS, though it saddens me to think he’d never realize the difference he made. Instead, Bret died talking about what more he could have done if not for laws or stigma or a simple lack of time. Perhaps why I feel so compelled to keep HIV/AIDS in my sights, why I’m humbly grateful for the lives saved by your donations and why every ride is a victory yet each falls short of the finish line.

Today is the last day of 2017, an important time to look back on what we accomplished together this year to move closer to an AIDS-free world before turning attention to what is yet undone. In May, the AIDS Vaccine 200 was abbreviated by a massive rainstorm that started as I finished the first 100 miles of day one and cancelled day 2. The bus ride back to Atlanta began in the somber way of any unfinished goal until every rider was struck by the realization of a goal had already been achieved. These 100 cyclists raised a record $358,500 to continue HIV/AIDS vaccine research and support. You contributed to that record before a single cyclist had pedaled one mile from Emory University!

The Fred Hutch Obliteride in August had less dramatic weather (for 2-day riders) and more dramatic climbs of every kind with several hundred cyclists stretching themselves to work harder, raise more money and push immunotherapy closer to defeating cancer and HIV/AIDS - $2,800,000 closer!

Ending AIDS is my unfinished business but unlike Bret, I’m blessed by hindsight stretching back many years that involved thousands more people than miles and I can see how every contribution, large and small, has saved lives and is bringing us closer to ending AIDS. Thank you for being there in my rear-view mirror, for reading this message year after year and believing that AIDS will one day be history, like 2017.

Friday, June 9, 2017


As you read this, I’ll be prepping to finish the second half of the AIDS Vaccine 200. That’s right, 3 weeks and 3,000 miles from the first half! Those 100 miles across the Georgia countryside started out warm and muggy and heated up steadily from there. By the time we reached our Rock Eagle overnight, lightning strikes and a threatening forecast led to the inevitable early morning decision to cancel Day 2 and safely bus riders and crew back to Atlanta. Disappointment turned to determination on that school bus as cyclists planned their make-up rides. Mine is tomorrow when I take on the Flying Wheels 100-mile route through the three-river valley in my own backyard. It may be 3,000 miles from Atlanta but the route is equally long, rural and hilly, past pungent dairy farms, over and along rivers and valleys. The weather will cooler but it will be muggy. Lightning is forecast for late afternoon.

Stay tuned for the AV200 epilogue…

Sunday, April 2, 2017

This I Believe - 20th Anniversary Edition

“This we believe: One day every man, woman and child will live in a world without HIV/AIDS. Until that day comes we ride together – with hope for all.”          -AV200 10th anniversary motto
Until that day comes Is why I’m asking you again to make a generous contribution to my annual fundraising drive to move Emory Vaccine Center further down the road to ending HIV/AIDS. Thanks to the tenacity of every donor, doctor, teacher, scientist, care-giver, activist, clinician and advocate, new HIV infection rates are falling and the infected are adding more, healthier years to their lives. So much progress has been made in the 35 years since HIV burst onto the scene that it’s tempting to feel “that day” has arrived. Alas…

Every man, woman and child... Look closely at the data and you’ll see progress centering around those privileged to receive comprehensive sex education, have affordable healthcare, and access to testing and treatment without fear of losing their job, their freedom, their family and support system due to the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. It matters to me that progress is available to everyone, everywhere and it’s too easy to politicize that possibility away. The ultimate solution is an HIV vaccine and a cure for those already infected. Until that day comes, I’ll show up at the gym at 5am, haul my bike through baggage claim, pull on spandex and pedal, pedal, pedal. More importantly, I’ll peddle the same goal to you.

This year I’ll respond to our unstable political environment by doubling my efforts and hope you’ll do the same. Next month I’ll take on those 200 miles out of Atlanta in solidarity with Action Cycling Atlanta in their 15th annual AIDS Vaccine 200 for HIV/AIDS research at Emory Vaccine Center. At summer’s end, I’ll cycle closer to home in the 2-day Obliteride in support of Fred Hutchison cancer research. The Hutch and EVC are close partners in their drive to end HIV/AIDS and are leveraging cancer treatments to teach the immune system to fight HIV. A win against cancer is a won HIV battle and vice versa.

Both rides spend more than a weekend spotlighting attention on innovative research, commitment to collaboration and sincere appreciation for every penny of every donation raised by ordinary people with extraordinary expectations. I respect that your giving decisions may be as challenging as a long slog up a steep hill in a torrential downpour. I also respect the challenge of HIV. Your contribution, small or large, to either or both rides, makes a difference. Every dollar raised to help scientists explore new ideas can be turned into $14-$16 dollars in federal funding to carry that idea forward. Federal funding is no longer as reliable as your generosity. Let’s do what we can to maintain progress toward that day when we all live in a world without HIV.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Tenacity of Hope

Dear Aunt Idie,

Remembering you with gratitude this week. Gratitude that an east coast business trip would end over a holiday weekend, close enough for a detour to visit with you. Deep down, I sensed it would be our last and so did you. At nearly 97, you’d outlived your closest friends and younger sisters. I heard how much you missed and were ready to join them, even if it was the briefest of somber mentions in a day spent catching up on family and retelling stories, laughing and shaking our heads.

Today, I’m grateful to remember that day and your lesson on attitude. That visit 8 years ago led into the same event approaching this week yet I haven’t been coming at it with the same delight; joyful anticipation replaced by fear and anxiety. So much gained and so much to lose. Then I remembered your lesson for experiencing life the way I cycle a century – it’s a ride, not a race. There will be painfully long climbs and blissful descents, headwinds to fight and a tailwind when you need it most.
Everybody finishes and no hardship is greater than the attitude you bring to it.

Whatever it brings, time to enjoy the ride! See you at the finish line.