Part 1: Gearing Up
Part 3: Clif Notes & Big Staffs
Part 4: Inside Pallotta Teamworks
Part 5: Options & Alternatives
Part 6: Lost & Foundation
Part 7: Devotion Over Dollars
Part 8: 2001/2002 Update: Lawsuits, Loss and LifeCycle
Homeo: Plate

Part 2: The goal of a community

by Jim Provenzano
Bay Area Reporter

According to fitness trainer Larry Hall, "Until you experience the ride, you don't know what it's like."

He means the annual California AIDS Ride, and compares the challenge of training for the 560-mile event to that of a PWA's struggle. "You have these people with HIV who meet their challenge every day," he marvels. He finds it so inspirational, he's volunteered since October to spend weekends leading cycling groups from Ocean Beach's Cliff House to Woodside in San Mateo County, or traveling 15-70 miles into Marin County. Eventually the training rides will increase to about 100 miles.

Hall did work with the AIDS Action Committee when he lived in Boston, fundraising in many ways. But, he says, "In the 1980s everyone seemed to be dying. I got burned out. Literally everyone I knew died of AIDS." When he moved to Germany in 1996, he found AIDS fundraising efforts there incredibly futile.

Back in the U.S., he saw flyers for the California AIDS Ride and joined up.

"My first reason was more selfish," he says. "I just wanted to meet people."

It's only after he got involved that he found "it's also about helping people."

And of course, it's about the ride along the California coast. Hall said the route travels inland, and not solely along the scenic Route 1. By the end of the first day cyclists will have traveled 92 miles to Santa Cruz. "Most people use hybrids or mountain bikes," he said. "It depends on what people can afford." He spent several thousand dollars on a custom-made bike and accessories, as well as hundreds in postage for fundraising. He considers it all an investment.

Although he says financial considerations can be "somewhat limiting," the nature of the fundraiser leads to creative ways to get the wheels in motion. "Some people find ways to get things donated," including "gear parties," where "people who can't afford to buy stuff ask others to donate equipment or money for the ride."

To begin the participation, applicants must submit a $45 fee, which does not go toward fundraising, then raise a minimum of $2,500 in pledges. "Twenty five hundred dollars is not an easy amount," he admits, "but everybody exceeds that."

When asked about the financial problems of AIDS rides, Hall said, "There are two sides to this. You can't control how much money is going to be made. I think that for other rides, as in Florida, too many organizations were supposed to get money from the ride. People were fighting. It's less profitable for different organizations."

Hall believes that for the California Ride, "Sixty percent of donor dollars go back to AIDS." For the California AIDS Ride, the net proceeds will be shared between the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF). Foundation brochures back up these claims with charts and figures.

Even so, the negative publicity about some rides has occasionally surfaced, when people he approached for donations had negative reactions. With time he has become better able to handle that. "Last year, I took it personally if people wouldn't donate," he said. "I realized I couldn't do that."

He prefers not to "judge people who aren't into it. You don't know why people are choosing not to donate. A lot of people feel put down. People should have the option to say no. They should help the organizations they believe in. The goal of the AIDS Ride is to put together a community."