Thousands of riders arrived at the finish line of the 545-mile AIDS LifeCycle in Los Angeles weary but jubilant Saturday (7 June) after completing a seven-day journey that had begun in San Francisco.
Their efforts resulted in a record $15 million being raised to support the HIV/AIDS services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Some riders are HIV positive and some rode in memory of loved ones who died of AIDS. Others rode to contribute to the cause and to tackle the physical challenge and also to be a part of what becomes a close-knit community.
‘I’m proud and humbled by the week we have spent together,’ San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Neil G. Giuliano told the riders at an emotional closing ceremony in Westwood.
Added LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri Jean: ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for making this such a phenomenal event.’
Among those who completed the journey were US Congressman Adam Schiff who called the ride ‘an amazing experience.’
‘We raised 15 million for HIV/AIDS. Most ever. That’s a good way to spend a week,’ Schiff wrote on his Facebook page.
He also wrote: ‘ … The remarkable thing about the ALC Ride is that it really is a community on wheels, sometimes with the feeling of a traveling circus, but it is a bubble of goodwill. In the entire week, I don’t think I heard a harsh word or something said in anger.’
Sadly, one rider did not make it to the finish line.
On Wednesday (4 June), Edna Flores-Lagunte of San Francisco suffered a cardiac event while participating in the event for the 13th time.
“She was a proud Training Ride Leader and helped prepare thousands of people in Northern California for the event,’ stated a post on the AIDS LifeCycle Facebook page. ‘She has made an INCREDIBLE difference in the AIDS/LifeCycle community, and she will be greatly missed.’
Below are some moments from Saturday’s closing ceremony.