I am always on the look out in my day job to find out more about some of the diverse and different fundraising events that happen around the world to help provide funding for organisations that support people with HIV and AIDS and that aim to educate the community some 30 years after the epidemic began.  I have been very fortunate to have been involved in one form or another with STYLEAID http://www.styleaid.com.au  here in Perth since its inception nearly 17 years ago and have been very proud to see it evolve into the number 1 fashion fundraising event here in Perth.

Any one who works on events knows the logistics and time needed to put on any event is time-consuming, detailed and demands complete commitment and dedication for it to succeed. These days there are so many charities vying for our support with both money and time that we constantly have to create new fresh and innovative aspects to our events to keep the public engaged and wanting to be part of them and above all else to continue to give and relate to the messages that we are putting out there.  One of the events that grabbed my attention for very personal reasons is the AIDS/LifeCycle that happens in the US.

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This fantastic annual event has happened for a several years now and I have known about it before through a young guy who did one of our workshops at the AIDS Council and then moved to the States. We obviously had an effect on him as he did the AIDS/LIFECycle ride and dedicated it to us back here in Perth and commented on the impact that being involved with WAAC had on his life!

This year I was so pleased to find out that a very special young guy who has been part of my family for over 10 years and who now lives in the US is taking part in the 2014 AIDS/LifeCycle to help raise money for the very important work that 2 organisations – one in San Francisco and one in Los Angeles do to aid people with HIV and AIDS.

AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.  It’s a life-changing ride—not a race—through some of California’s most beautiful countryside.  AIDS/LifeCycle is co-produced by L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation and is designed to advance their shared interest to cut new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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The following is taken directly from the AIDS/LifeCycle website and explains more fully why they do the ride each year and the importance of it:

It’s easy to think that HIV/AIDS is no longer a problem. Medications have come a long way, and people are living longer, healthier lives. This is why the work of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is so vital. These agencies continue to provide the critical services and education needed to meet the growing needs of our community. We ride to raise awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among participants, their donors, and the general public. We ride because—in the current economy—our agencies need these funds more than ever. Ultimately, we ride so that someday, we won’t have to.

AIDS is not over

In California alone there are 151,000 people living with HIV. Nationally, 70 percent of all new infections occur in communities of color and people under the age of 25 are increasingly affected.

The costs associated with medical care and treatment for a person with HIV are about $20,000 per year. Access to life-saving drugs, clinical trials and state-of-the-art treatment helps those with the disease live a longer and better quality of life. AIDS/LifeCycle will help those living with HIV/AIDS gain greater independence and get the treatment and care they need. Prevention services geared towards high-risk populations will ensure that future generations will not experience the same level of loss that we have faced in the last two decades.

As the number of people living with HIV increases, so does the need for the services provided by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the two agencies producing this event.

AIDS/LifeCycle is the only AIDS fundraising bicycle event in California organized by the non-profit agencies that will benefit from the money raised by its participants. Our sole concern is providing critical services to people living with HIV and AIDS. Your support and commitment to this event is pivotal to our success. Your participation and the monies you raise will allow us to provide these critical services.

They are perfect sentiments that highlight that even in 2014 HIV is still an issue for all of us and we need to continue to be vigilant, to educate the communities that we are a part of and of course to support people with HIV and AIDS that live with us and touch our lives.

Zac has now been living in the US for the past couple of years and works as a spin cycle instructor in WeHo and is leading a team of riders.  He is calling himself the Thunder from Down Under…

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Zac Gower,Thunder from Down Under

I’M RIDING TO END HIV/AIDS

From June 1-7 2014 I’m bicycling in AIDS/LifeCycle. It’s a 7-day 545 (870km)-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to make a world of difference in the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS

This is disease has touched members of my friends and family for a large part of my life. While HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentance it is still a disease that effects millions of people world wide. The money I raise will not only goes towards finding a cure but also has a direct effect on the day-to-day life of people living with HIV/AIDS in California.

I ride for those we have lost, I ride for those we can prevent and I ride for the survivors.

My family and I have gotten behind him and are sponsoring the ride and I would encourage any of you who are reading this and have a few dollars to spare to also consider heading to his page and supporting him as head heads off in June for this amazing 7 day bike ride! http://www.tofighthiv.org/site/TR?px=3036948&fr_id=1630&pg=personal

Even in 2014 we must stay focussed on working together to end HIV and to do that we still need to raise funds and along the way educate the people in our communities about the impact that HIV still has and that we can all make a difference by supporting each other and supporting the organisations that are attempting to make a difference to those living with the virus!