The 13th annual Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) Ride for AIDS Chicago fundraiser ended its two-day weekend event with a festival July 10 at Leahy Park in Evanston, Illinois.
The event began in Evanston with a two-day, 200 mile ride, and ended at Leahy Park. This year, TPAN added a one-day, 100 mile ride that took place July 10. Riders camped overnight in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and those who participated in the 100-mile ride began their trek there.
About 200 riders, 85 crew and 15 volunteers participated in the race. Riders raised about $500,000 in unrestricted funds to be used for a variety of programs as well as operational costs.
In addition to the individual and team riders, a riderless bike traveled the 200 miles to honor those who've already died of AIDS. Riders who are HIV-positive wore orange bandanas to signify their status.
As each rider/team crossed the finish line, TPAN staff and the executive committee members rang bells. All riders/teams received participation medals.
TPAN CEO Patti Capouch told Windy City Times about the remarks she made ahead of the ride and the opening message U.S. Rep. ( and U.S. Senate candidate ) Tammy Duckworth sent along.
"People think HIV/AIDS has gone away or it's a chronic disease that they don't have to think much about anymore, but when you think about the stigma surrounding this disease, you don't have to look further than Charlie Sheen, who paid $10 million to keep it quietso it's still an issue," said Capouch. "This ride helps because it provides a dialogue across the LGBTQ and straight communities to eliminate the stigma of those with HIV. This year, half of our riders are new and the 100 mile option opened the door to riders who didn't have as much time to train but wanted to participate."
WGN reporter Sean Lewis was this year's emcee.
"I emceed this event a few years ago and what I took away from it was its message of empowerment," said Lewis. "For so long, especially when I was younger, having HIV was like having cancer in the 1950s. No one talked about it and it was something that was feared. Showcasing HIV-positive people who are leading healthy full lives and able to ride 200 miles inspires me on any given day to do my best. I was honored to participate when they asked me to come back this year."
Ahead of Capouch's remarks, Lewis recognized the crew and volunteers and read the names of the participating teams as they walked the procession route.
"I'm so proud of all of you and the work you put into completing this event," Capouch told the crowd. " It's been a devastatingly emotional time in our country's history. Your presence here today is about enacting change. … I want all of you to keep creating change for those living with HIV or those who've experience oppression of any kind; be it the color of their skin, their gender or whom they love."
TPAN executive committee member and team captain chair Mark Franklin spoke about the meaning of the riderless bike as a procession with the bike passed by attendees.
Eleven-time rider and Ald. Ariel Reboyras read Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proclamation about the event. Reboyras and a number of other aldermen, including every LGBT city council member, also signed the proclamation.
Following Reboyras' remarks, TPAN staff member and ride boss Gary Nelson announced the top fundraising teams: Team TPAN, Team Cheetah, Team Fred, Team J-Cats and Team Touche as well as the top ten individual fundraisers: James Summers, Dr. Robert Garafalo, Carl Branch, Scott Cook, Yvette Pryor, Shannon Cunningham, Greg Schweickert, Mark Sumpter, Patrick Lannon and John Paul Lawless.
The top individual fundraisers each received a Tyr backpack as a gift from TPAN in recognition of the money they raised.
Rehab specialists from Aligned Modern Health were on hand to work on the riders' muscles after they finished the race. New Belgium Brewery provided free beer for the riders and crew and Essentia water donated 200 cases of water for festival attendees.
See tpan.convio.net/site/TR for more information.