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.


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