AIDS activists bike to raise nearly $174,000 for city’s LGBT Center
After three days of pedaling 275 miles from Maryland to New York City, a group of about 100 riders and volunteers in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center’s second annual AIDS ride, “Braking the Cycle,” were ready for a hearty welcome.
Participants celebrated at a festive closing ceremony at the Center on September 12, complete with music by the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps, fanfare and acrobatics provided by Cheer N.Y., and celebrity guest appearances, including Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming.
“This is a critical event,” said Janet Weinberg, director of development for the Center. “Through the ride we had people asking us questions about HIV/AIDS, about our services, and it also raised crucial funding for the Center, because as time is going on, it is harder and harder to get funding from the federal government.”
After Cheer N.Y. got the crowd pumped up in anticipation of the riders’ arrival, Cumming took the stage.
“Every year, the Center provides 5,000 counseling sessions to people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS, and more than a thousand teens come here for HIV prevention leadership and training and services,” Cumming said. “And over a quarter of the people who get services here are uninsured or have inadequate insurance to meet their health and social service needs,” said Cumming.
As Cumming lauded the riders, who “have ridden 275 miles across five states with one destination in mind—the end of AIDS,” a group of road-weary but happy cyclists turned west from Seventh Avenue onto 13th Street, eliciting thunderous applause from the waiting crowd.
“We live in a time when we have a government that is not serious about HIV and AIDS prevention, they are not serious about providing the resources necessary to conquer this epidemic,” said the Center’s executive director, Richard Burns. “Because of this community of riders and crew members who come together each year to raise funds for the Center’s HIV/AIDS services, we will turn no one away.”
Exhausted from the ride, guest celebrity rider Chip Arndt, openly gay winner of the reality TV show, “The Amazing Race,” briefly shared his thoughts about the importance of events like “Braking the Cycle.”
“AIDS isn’t over. A lot of people suffer from it, not just gay and lesbian people but minorities throughout the world,” said Arndt, adding, “Every dollar raised is absolutely critical.” He then made a promise to ride in next year’s event and pledged $5,000 to seal the deal.
At the conclusion of the welcoming ceremony, this year’s crop of riders presented Burns with a check for $173,945.