Does riding 200-miles in two-days make you a healthier person? Perhaps. Does riding 200-miles in two-days to improve someone else’s life make you a healthier person? Maybe. Health is so much more than physical. Mental, spiritual, and emotional health is a part of staying “healthy”. The choices we make in our lives contribute to the overall health and happiness we experience. The following stories show that sometimes, you have to give, to get. Below is one of several stories from participants of an annual event called the Ride for AIDS Chicago. The Ride for AIDS Chicago is a two-day, 200-mile charity cycling event that raises money for Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) and partner agencies. TPAN and the partner agencies that benefit from the Ride for AIDS Chicago provide direct service to those living with HIV and help prevent the spread of the virus through information dissemination, HIV testing, and education.Why I Ride/Crew/Produce
I did my first Ride for AIDS Chicago in 2008. I didn't know anyone on the Ride, and I donated the entire $1,000 myself. I had just got done fundraising for my first AIDS marathon and I didn't want to burden my friends with another fundraising request.
In the beginning, these events - marathons and 200-mile bike rides were all about me. I had been HIV positive for about six years, was a pack a day smoker, and led a "party" lifestyle that was surely going to see me to an early grave if I continued doing what I was doing.
When I found out I was HIV positive, I had 123 T-cells, I was in fact not just living with HIV but technically someone living with AIDS. I spent a good portion of my 20's believing that my life had a short shelf life. I thought that I wouldn't live to see 30.
By the grace of modern medicine my immune system recovered. My immune system recovered while my mindset stayed the same. It was only when I had the realization that it was my behaviors that were going to kill me, not my HIV that I started to make any real change.
In the spring of 2007, in an effort to ditch my destructive habits I started to train for my first marathon. This led to being a running Coach for the National AIDS Marathon training program, then my first Ride for AIDS Chicago which led to my Riding for the past three years, captaining a team of 25, and now helping produce the event itself.
Somewhere along the way I realized that I'm going to live a long and healthy life with this disease.
The coolest thing for me was as a Captain in 2009 and as a running Coach for the AIDS marathon I realized that I had the power to help people have their own trans-formative experience by participating in events like the Ride.
Maybe they do it for the cause, maybe they do it for themselves, maybe they do it for a friend...
It doesn't matter why people do the Ride for AIDS Chicago. The fact is, they are doing it. Not only are they doing it, but they are committed to raising money to support people living with this disease. That means something to me, because everyone should feel as comfortable with their disease as I do.
So the reason I have ridden, why I crew, and why I produce the Ride for AIDS Chicago is to make a difference. A difference in the lives of those participating and a difference in the lives of the people supported by the programs that the Ride helps support.
-- Richard Cordova