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.