by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Jason Krech lives to cycle. It's what he loves. Cycling is a big part of who he is. So when he found out that he could cycle, vacation, and raise money to save lives, he was all in.
Last year, Krech participated in AIDS/LifeCycle, a fully supported seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Every year, this landmark ride through California delivers a life-changing experience for thousands of participants from all backgrounds and fitness levels united by a common desire to do something heroic.
Krech was just one of the 2,350 bicyclists and 600 volunteer 'roadies' to complete the 545-mile ride. The event is hailed as the 'world's most successful AIDS fundraiser,' as riders hailing from nearly every state and 11 different countries raised a record $13,060,000 for the HIV/AIDS services of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Krech told Seattle Gay News the experience truly was a life-changing event, saying that he intends to be an active part of this community of riders for many years to come. In addition, he says he would like to grow the event to the Pacific Northwest - a ride from Seattle to Portland, and onto San Francisco.
This year, Krech - Seattle Team Popular captain - along with Tim Lee, Sean Haste, Jordan Simonson, and Peter Ricci, will ride, and they hope to raise $25,000 locally and $250,000 nationally. Krech says he is confident that Team Popular can reach their goal with the help of the community.
The men are scheduled to ride during the week of June 3-9 and want to raise $25,000 before they head to San Francisco. To do this, they've already begun to raise funds, but are set to produce a Seattle Fights HIV/AIDS fundraiser March 14 at the Lobby Bar (916 E. Pike St.) from 7 to 10:30 p.m. The fundraiser's event page can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/211728058922640, which includes links to ways individuals can make a private donation.
The event, hosted by Seattle drag entertainer Lily Armani, will include a silent auction 'with stuff you actually want to bid for,' said organizers. In addition, drink specials, an opportunity to commemorate a loved one on the actual ride, and (of course) lots of fun and entertainment.
After the cyclists raise some money, it's off to California to compete in an event that has become synonymous with compassion, community, and care. Participants range in age from 18 to 83, come from all over the world, and are at various levels of physical fitness.
'Whether Gay or straight, HIV-positive or HIV-negative, they share a common commitment to ending HIV and caring for those living with the virus,' said event organizers. 'So much so that each cyclist raises at least $3,000 to participate in a life-changing experience. Since its inception in 2002, AIDS/LifeCycle has raised more than $70 million to fight AIDS.'
Krech says that he, along with the rest of Team Popular, are up for the challenge. In many ways, participating in the 11th annual AIDS/LifeCycle is a two-pronged approach to a cyclist's commitment to ending HIV/AIDS. To even begin, they have to raise at least $3,000 to compete, and then they set out to complete the grueling ride. At the end of each day, Krech said, you can't help but feel emotional about your journey - knowing you are a part of such an amazing event is overwhelming.
Every nine and a half minutes, someone in the United States is infected with HIV. While the response has yielded much progress, serious challenges remain. An estimated 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV; approximately one in four are unaware they're infected and may be unknowingly transmitting the disease to others. Gay and black communities, through not distinct from one another, are especially hard-hit.
For more information, go to www.aidslifecycle.org.
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!