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NorCal AIDS Cycle Raises $327,000 for HIV/AIDS Services

A bicyclist raises his hand in the air after crossing the Tower Bridge, ending a 330 mile fundraiser for AIDS.


The cyclists came over Tower Bridge and took a stop at Crocker Park before heading to the Capitol.
Cyclists, crew members, and hundreds of friends and supporters gathered at the State Capitol Sunday, May 19, to welcome home the members of the ninth annual NorCal AIDS Cycle, a 4-day, 330-mile HIV/AIDS cycling fundraiser. The 2013 event raised more than $327,000 for HIV/AIDS services in the Capital region and Northern California—up from $304,000 in 2012.
Slowing down to stop at Crocker Park.
Nearly 4,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS in the eight counties traversed during the four-day ride, with one in four new infections occurring in youth ages 13 to 24. In addition to raising funds to replace diminishing state and federal resources, NorCal AIDS Ride raises awareness of the importance of knowing one’s HIV status to avoid infecting others.
“NCAC is the largest and only organization in the Greater Sacramento region right now that raises much needed funds for the HIV community,” said Emily Rymland, NCAC board president, veteran cyclist, and a nurse practitioner at CARES, one of the NCAC beneficiary organizations. “The need is enormous and imperative. Youth are directly impacted; one in four new infections are in people between the ages of 13 and 24. We have got to get a handle on prevention. There are no longer state dollars for this. It’s on us.”
Some 125 cyclists and 75 volunteer crew members rode out from Folsom Lake on Thursday, May 16. The event closed with hundreds of well-wishers gathered to welcome the cyclists riding in for an emotional Closing Ceremony at noon on May 19.
Following an Opening Ceremony at 7 a.m., May 16, Folsom Lake’s Beals Point, NCAC cyclists and mobile crew followed a circuitous, often challenging route through the Sierra foothills and northern Central Valley, ending their first 101-mile day at Gridley, second 100-mile day at Williams, and third 80-mile day at Woodland.
Funds raised by the 2013 ride will provide funding for 11 non-profit HIV/AIDS service organizations in Sacramento and Northern California: CARES Clinic Dental Program, Golden Rule Services, SANE (Safer Alternatives thru Networking and Education), Breaking Barriers, Harm Reduction Services, Sunburst Projects, River City Food Bank, and Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center, all of Sacramento; Sierra Foothills AIDS Foundation of Auburn, Calif.; Caring Choices of Chico, Calif.; and Shasta Trinity Tehama HIV Food Bank of Redding, Calif.
Each cyclist raises a minimum of $1,500 and each crew member a minimum of $250. Since its founding in 2005, NCAC has raised more than $1. 5 million total.
One of the things that historically has distinguished Sacramento-based NCAC from other California AIDS rides is its distribution of funds to multiple beneficiary agencies in Sacramento and Northern California. In many cases, NCAC’s contributions have s kept the doors open for small non-profit organizations, including some that are the sole providers of HIV/AIDS services to underserved or remote California communities.
For some small non-profits, such as Sacramento’s Breaking Barriers, NCAC funding has kept the doors open in the face of government budget cuts. Breaking Barriers provides HIV testing and education from a mobile testing van and supportive services such as holiday meals and transportation to medical appointments for people living with HIV. “Every year the ride has grown a little bigger and raised more money,” says Executive Director Craig Spatola. “That alone makes a major impact for HIV/AIDS agencies, some smaller than mine. For us it is literally the difference between paid and unpaid staff.”
The mission of NorCal AIDS Cycle is to support organizations throughout Northern California working to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to care for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in the region through fundraising; to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS, the needs of the community and the benefitting organizations; and to encourage a positive environment for the dignity, quality of life, and acceptance of people affected by and infected with HIV/AIDS. For more information about NorCal AIDS Cycle, visit www.norcalaidscycle.org.

Here are more photos from today:

Scott St. John and Chris Olsen were the first cyclists to reach Crocker Park – at 9:30am.
St. John, West Sacramento, says he is new to biking. They hit head, tail and sideways winds on the way to Sacramento today. He bought his bike in January. "It’s been fun to be part of the event, and to raise awareness and money," he said.

Olsen says he rides across the Yolo causeway to West Sacramento everyday to work since 2006. He estimates over that time he’s ridden 25,000 – 30,000 miles.

"The hardest part was sitting on the bike for nine hours versus one hour. Being on the bike for that long was the hardest," Olsen said.

Once all the bikers arrived at Crocker Park, the headed, en masse to the Capitol grounds.
They were jubilant.
A large crowd awaited to welcome home and job well done.
The cyclists lined up 3 rows deep in on the west steps. Mike Tentis, center, waves.
Support crew sits below the cyclists.
A cyclist with a good sense of humor!
Charlie Peer, Outward Magazine, walks between the cyclists and the supportive crowd.
A jubilant cyclists raises his bicycle in excitement.
An injured cyclist hurt on the first day of the trek.
Part of the Medical crew: Vera Go, Jessica Tarchala, and Kathleen Haight. They said the first day was the busiest for them.
Barbi Olson carries the memory wheel contains people’s names or the reason why riders are on the trek.
Rider Steven Hansen with friends Thomas Dobson and Isla Lake.
Even the bikes need a rest!
The Midway Marvels provided music for the event.

Editor’s note: The “News Digest” goes out every Tuesday morning and highlights our best stories, photos and videos from the week prior. Sign me up.


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