HIV/AIDS Bicycle Ride from Miami to Key West Raises Record Amount
They left Miami and headed down to Key West, their bicycles oiled, their spirits raised.
It was the SMART Ride - the most successful one yet. In its ninth year, the bicycle ride to raise awareness and money for HIV/AIDS raised $860,000, and donations are still coming in.
Founder Glen Weinzimer, however, said that his favorite moment was "knowing every rider was safe and had arrived into Key West." Hopefully, the record-breaking donations were a cause for celebration, as well.
Weinzimer attributed the success of this year to the completely-volunteer staff and participants who "gave 100 percent." Other key attributes to the successful year were the massive involvement from the community and the ever-luscious destination: Key West.
This year participation from out-of-sate doubled with 82 riders and attendees coming in from other states. Today, SMART Ride is the second largest cycling event of its kind in the country, first place going to the AIDS Life Cycle in California. It is, however, the only cycling event of its size to give 100 percent of its proceeds away. Almost half the out-of-state participants this year came from California, many of them having ridden in the Life Cycle.
Weinzimer founded SMART Ride back in 2003 to give back. Having worked for HIV agencies, Weinzimer - who's been positive since 1993 - saw how fundraising events could go awry, no one really benefitting from them. This was his way of ensuring that the agencies in charge of helping those affected by the virus got the funding they needed to operate.
"Going in and making photocopies wasn't doing it for me," Weinzimer said. "That was my motivation."
The beneficiaries of the money this year will be strewn all across the state:
Children's Diagnostic and Treatment Center
Pride Center at Equality Park
Metro Wellness and Community Centers
Center for Positive Connections
Miracle of Love
Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach County
This year, a new element makes its way into the fund allocation, called the 10 percent Lifeline. Essentially, SMART Ride will keep a portion of the funds to allocate throughout the year to agencies that may be in need of quick cash infusions.
"From the very start when I created the event, the goal wasn't just to help the largest agencies, but also the smaller ones," Weinzimer said, and added that places like the Poverello Center will now be able to appeal for something like $10,000 to run an event, anytime through the year.
For more information, go to www.thesmartride.org.
The SMART Ride's top 5 teams
These top 5 teams raised 347,894, which is more than 40 percent of the total amount raised this year
1. SoBe SAFE Riders $100,741
2. Pride Pack $71,546
3. Friends of Rosies $68,248
4. Lets Roll Bitches $60,626
5. Live Free Be Strong $47,015
The SMART Ride's top 10 riders
These top 10 participants raised, 124,667, which is almost 15 percent of the total amount this year
1. Timothy Haymon $20,775
2. Ed Pascoe $12,675
3. Julie Slater $12,424
4. Michael Dillon $12,300
5. Dave Fletcher $12,281
6. Michael Fowler $11,410
7. Will Richardson $11,186
8. Gabriel Hernandez $10,892
9. Neal Harry Barton $10,610
10. William Renaud $10,114