Riders from 12 Countries, 42 States Complete 545-Mile Trek from San
LOS ANGELES, June 7 /PRNewswire/ -- After a week experiencing the physical and emotional challenges of a 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles, the 3,000 participants in AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) rolled to a victorious finish in West Los Angeles today, having raised some $11.6 million from more than 60,000 donors. Money raised from the event will support HIV/AIDS-related services provided by the event's co-producers, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
The 2,500 riders and 500 volunteer "roadies" were greeted by thousands of friends and supporters at the Veterans Administration Center. At an emotional ceremony later in the afternoon, actress Jane Lynch will welcome the riders home as the oldest (81 years old) and youngest (18 years old) cyclists guide a riderless bike to the stage to commemorate those lost to AIDS.
AIDS/LifeCycle 7 set a new record for participation and money raised, attracting cyclists from 12 countries and 42 states, including a contingent of people living with HIV known as the Positive Pedalers. The event is the largest annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the country.
"For seven days, this remarkable community of riders, roadies and donors traveled together down the California coast to make life better for people with HIV and AIDS," said Mark Cloutier, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "Their support will help us devise new tools to prevent HIV infections and improve treatment and care for people living with HIV. Every year, AIDS/LifeCycle brings us closer to a world where HIV no longer threatens the health and happiness of those we love."
Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center said, "This week, we have shown that anyone can help make a significant difference in the fight against AIDS. Moreover, we have seen that it takes all kinds of people to succeed -- whether we are gay or straight, HIV positive or negative, regardless of gender or race or age or physical ability -- we are in this together, and we will not allow ourselves to be divided when it comes to fighting AIDS."
Over the course of the week-long event, the cyclists -- sometimes outnumbering the populations of the communities they rode through -- were greeted by local residents of eight counties. This year, organizers distributed free premium condoms -- in packages emblazoned with the message "Ride Safe" -- to HIV/AIDS organizations and community clinics along the route to emphasize the message of personal responsibility and prevention.
It is estimated that 160,000 Californians are living with HIV/AIDS, many of whom are unaware of their infection. In California, HIV/AIDS has had a particularly severe impact on the gay community, with 73 percent of all cases occurring among gay and bisexual men, compared with 59 percent nationally. Communities of color, including gay and bisexual men of color, have been disproportionately affected, as well. For example, although African-Americans comprise only 6.7 percent of California's population, they account for nearly 19 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS in the state.
AIDS/LifeCycle is supported by presenting sponsors Gilead Sciences, Shopoff Properties Trust and FedEx.
Additional information about the history of the event, details regarding the benefiting organizations, and profiles of individuals participating in the event and their personal reasons for doing so can be found on the AIDS/LifeCycle website press room at http://www.aidslifecycle.org/press.
Photographs from the AIDS/LifeCycle Closing Ceremony will be available for downloading at 8 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, June 7 at http://www.aidslifecycle.org/press/.
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved