Local cyclist to embark on 545 mile ride for AIDS research, needs your support
Richmond Virginia has one of the highest HIV rates in the nation according to the Virginia Department of Health, with 2300 cases and growing.
Without insurance, treatment can cost between $20,000 and $60,000 annually. While HIV/AIDS treatments have improved over the past decade, the disease is far from gone and continues to effect a shocking number of individuals.
With this in mind The Richmond LGBT Meetup Group and the Richmond Business Alliance have teamed up to support Stephanie Rittmeyer in her quest to raise $5,000 for the AIDS LifeCycle Organization.
The AIDS LifeCycle is a 545 mile ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of seven days. The ride, which starts May 31st and runs through June 6th, will support the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
“It’s a ride to raise awareness, benefit the Aid for AIDS, and also to raise money to help find a cure,” said Kathy Magee of The Richmond LGBT Meetup. “It’s important to me on a personal level, being friends with [Rittmeyer] but it’s also important on a community level.”
While this will be Rittmeyer’s first time participating in AIDS LifeCycle, it’s not her first time competing in similar events.
“I have never done anything that was seven days long. I’ve done Bike MS a few times, which is a two-day ride, 150 miles. But I’ve never done anything quite as long as this,” said Rittmeyer.
150 miles is a huge distance but it’s nothing compared to the 545 miles. Despite the enormous distance Rittmeyer is up for the task, undertaking the challenge in the name of AIDS research.
“I chose AIDS because it’s something that we just don’t hear about anymore. I remember the 80’s/90’s we used to share, it used to be on the news But now it doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s mind,” said Rittmeyer. “I looked at this as an opportunity to physically and mentally challenge myself to do the ride, but also to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS and the work that’s being done by great organizations out there, not just research but helping people who are living with AIDS. The cost of health care is so expensive annually who is living with AIDS just to be able to keep up with the medical treatment.”
Rittmeyer trained all throughout the brutal winter for the ride, never allowing the weather to prevent her from practicing inside at the very least. This determination has not gone unnoticed by the community, prompting both The Richmond LGBT Meetup and the Richmond Business Alliance to team-up to throw Rittmeyer a fundraiser.
“Stephanie being a member and getting to know her and the commitment that she’s made to this ride. She’s traveling all the way out to California to raise money and awareness, and it’s impressive,” said Magee. “AIDS is an issue and we don’t talk about it in the community. We still do not have a cure, and it’s important I think we do all that we can to hopefully one day soon find a cure.”
The fundraiser for Rittmeyer’s ride will be a wine reception held at C’est Le Vin, 15 N 17th St on May 1st from 6-9 pm. Tickets are $15 and must be purchased in advance from the RBA’s website. Tickets entitle holders to a glass of wine and light hors d’oeuvres, as well as a live performance from Rachel Leyco, and chances to win raffle prizes. 100% of the proceeds raised will benefit the AIDS LifeCycle.
Tyler Hammel is a college student who has an unhealthy obsession with comic books. He’s a proud cinephile, owning a sizable film collection that lets you know he doesn't have any friends. An aspiring filmmaker, Tyler currently works with the VCU student organization The Horn RVA, a group of like-minded video journalists with a passion for Richmond based music. When not crafting his own bio Tyler can be found misusing commas,
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