When their annual ride was cancelled to observe stay at home orders in California, AIDS/LifeCycle shifted to a virtual model—and their newest initiative, TogetheRide, lets people from all over the world join the movement against HIV/AIDS. What was once a fully-supported, 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles now lives within the TogetheRide app, but the heart behind it is the same—to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and raise funds for HIV testing, prevention, care, and more at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
“If it weren’t for places like this, I would not have received the support, care, and knowledge that I did, and quite frankly I might not be here today. That’s why I am so committed to supporting these organizations,” Drew Hazelhurst, YTTP’s Visual Production Manager, wrote for To The People last year. “In the first few years after diagnosis, I focused so much on fixing myself, and that was okay. Now, though, it is time for me to help other people, and that’s why I decided to participate in AIDS/LifeCycle.”
Since AIDS/LifeCycle’s first ride in 1993, volunteers have collectively raised over $200 million and finished over 42,000 rides across the state of California. Rides will resume in-person when it’s safe to do so but in the meantime, participants can set their own fundraising and mileage goals—and track their progress—with the TogetheRide app.
“If you want to challenge yourself both mentally and physically while being surrounded by some of the most caring and encouraging people then this is the ride for you,” Hazelhurst says. “You really do become a part of a family! Also, bringing awareness to HIV/ AIDS is a very powerful thing to be a part of. The more we can talk about it the sooner we can break down the stigma attached to it and continue to work on finding a cure.”
To honor the 1.2 million people who live with AIDS, this year’s goal is to raise $5 million and move 1.2 million miles—together. Here’s what you need to know to get started:
- All ages and all people are welcome on TogetheRide. Feel free to ride on your own or safely with family, friends, or teammates.
- Ride any kind of bike—beach cruisers, e-bikes, spin bikes, road bikes are all welcome! If you prefer activities like walking, running, or dancing, enter those miles as well. The TogetheRide app syncs with apps like Strava, Apple Health, and Google Fit.
- There’s no fundraising minimum. Anyone can fundraise!
- Each rider will have a participant rep, who helps you get started with fundraising, using the app, and making movement fun.
- The TogetheRide Participant Center is your hub for handling the donations you’ll receive, the thank you messages you’ll send out, and any resources you might need.