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Beautiful stories explain why people bike across California in the AIDS/LifeCycle

Beautiful stories explain why people bike across California in the AIDS/LifeCycle

Michael Cox, an AIDS/LifeCycle rider

Each year, thousands of people get on their bicycles to make an unforgettable journey. They bike 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles, all to raise awareness and funds for HIV/AIDS.

The AIDS/LifeCylce first began in 1993 as the California AIDS Ride. Since then, the ride has raised more than $200million for the cause.

Photographer Cedric Terrell recently published a portrait book about the ride.

Why We Ride is an intimate look at the people who participate in the AIDS/LifeCycle and what motivates them. Terrell granted GSN an exclusive look inside this stunning gallery, and shared some of the stories.

Victor Jones
Victor Jones | Photo: Provided/Cedric Terrell

To help save lives

‘I ride because we still live in a world with HIV/AIDS,’ Victor Jones says in the book.

Jones, who’s from Washington, DC, believes there is still work to be done and stigma to end.

‘I ride to help save lives and give so many a second chance.’

Madonna Cacciatore
Madonna Cacciatore | Photo: Provided/Cedric Terrell

A personal connection

For Madonna Cacciatore of Los Angeles, it’s a personal matter. Her brother died of AIDS in 1991 and she began riding in 2013.

Last year, she became a Road Manager, meaning she helped keep the route safe for bikers.

‘Today, I still ride for my brother, Johnny, for all who died in New York in the early epidemic, and because I love the staff, riders, charities, and mission of AIDS/LifeCycle.’

Marc Malkin
Marc Malkin | Photo: Provided/Cedric Terrell

Riding to never forgot

Entertainment journalist Marc Malkin revealed his HIV-positive status earlier this year. He never thought he’d participate – that was more of his husband’s thing.

Then, in 2017, he volunteered with the media team for the event and decided he’d ride in 2018 (which he subsequently did).

‘Both of my mother’s brothers, my uncles Arthur and David, died of AIDS early in the epidemic. As a gay man now living with HIV, I owe it to my uncles to do what I can to help continue the fight against the disease,’ he explains.

‘I’m riding in honor of my uncles and all of the people we have lost. We must never forget.’

Christopher Interdonato
Christopher Interdonato | Photo: Provided/Cedric Terrell

For gratitude

The Los Angeles LGBT Center is a co-producer of the cycle and a big reason why Christopher Interdonato rides.

‘I ride because I know what it’s like to be positive with no resources to get medication. The LGBT Center saved my life,’ he recalls.

The Center gave him shelter, clothing, resources, and help when he was at one of his lowest points.

‘This agency has impacted my life in such a deep and profound way that I am willing to go to any lengths to give back to this amazing organization so that they can continue to help those in our community with their work.’

Michael Cox
Michael Cox | Photo: Provided/Cedric Terrell

To heal

Michael Cox has been living with HIV for 30 years. The LifeCycle has had a positive impact on his mental and physical health. He calls it the ‘direct antithesis’ of the disease.

‘Helping to ends AIDS by doing a superhuman bike ride has been very healing for me. I am happy and healthy and thriving and my life has more purpose,’ he says.

‘I love the ride and the community and the love, and could not imagine life without it.’

Jill Dannis
Jill Dannis | Photo: Provided/Cedric Terrell

For a beautiful queer life

‘I ride to honor all of the queer people who came before me and made it possible for me to have the beautiful queer life that I have,’ Jill Dannis gives as her reason.

‘Knowing that HIV/AIDS is still a devastating disease in our society, particularly for the LGBTQ community and communities of color, and that this work will actively change the quality of life for thousands of people, gives me the drive I need to conquer the fundraising, the training, the hills, and the ride itself.’

To get the book and read more amazing stories like these, go here. More information about the ride can be found here.