Tim Emond has a lofty goal for the 2014 Ride For AIDS Chicago, the two-day, 200-mile bicycle ride produced by and benefitting the Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) and community partners.
He's aiming to raise $5,000.
This is Emond's second consecutive year riding. He is 34, lives in north suburban Glenview and works at Kraft Foods' corporate headquarters in Northfield as the manager of affirmative action and compliance, thus, he works with the company's diversity & inclusion team to drive employee resource group strategy and initiatives.
"I know people [who are HIV-positive] and I know how important the services and programs that TPAN offer are," Emond said. "I am committed to helping TPAN raise money so [the organization] can continue providing these services and educating the community. In addition, it is important that we fight the stigma that is associated with having HIV/AIDS which prevents many from [even] getting tested."
Emond also was a rider for Team TPAN in 2013, and this year he is a team captain.
"I enjoy working directly with the TPAN staff and supporting their efforts with the Ride," said Emond, who noted that Kraft Foods Group, Inc. is a sponsor of the Ride, and donates product for training rides and event weekend.
The 2014 Ride For AIDS Chicago is July 12-13.
Emond said the 2013 Ride was "very challenging physically," especially the hilly terrain. But, "the support of the other riders and crew encouraged me to keep pedaling," he said.
And watching others complete the strenuous journey was a highlight for Emond.
"People [living] with HIV/AIDS don't get to take a day off from the disease, so I will continue riding or volunteering for the Ride until there is no longer a need to do so," he said. "I believe it's important to be part of something bigger than yourself. Helping others has always been something I've enjoyed and if I can help educate others in the community or raise funds so that someone gets the medical services they need, I am happy to do it."
Meg Valenti, a four-time Ride participant, knew immediately that Emond would be a perfect fit for the Ride family.
"We knew from the first time we met Tim that he was a keeper," said Valenti, who rides along with her husband, Fred. "Tim is smart and funny, and jumped in [for the cause] with both feet. He has been actively fund-raising, training and volunteering.
"Then there is Tim's homemade granola, made especially for the training rides.
"Tim has been a positive role model and a consistent presence supporting TPAN and its mission in the HIV community. He truly embodies what being part of the Ride is all about."
Emond said the 2014 event has been a challenging training journey, due to the weather and his work schedule. "But I am confident that I will be able to complete the Ride," he said.
Annual Ride for
AIDS Chicago is
By Ross Forman
The 2014 Ride For AIDS Chicago is expecting 330 riders for the two-day, 200-mile bicycle ride, including more than 100 first-time riders.
There also are more than 110 crew members aiding the event.
Combined, the group has raised about $680,000.
The 11th annual Ride, produced and supporting the Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ), is July 12-13.
"The highlight of this year's event is going to be camp," after the first 100 miles, said Richard Cordova, TPAN's director of athletic events, now involved in his seventh Ride. "We've got a lot of fun activities planned for camp this year. The riders and crew are going to excited when they see what we have waiting for them."
And when the entourage hits the finish line in Evanston, emotions will be high, as usual.
"Seeing the riders crossing the finish line is always an emotional experience for me. Seeing their faces when you place the medal across their neck always brings a smile to my face," said Cordova, 36, one of several openly HIV-positive participants in the annual fundraiser.
Riders can wear an orange bandana to signify they are HIV-positive, a Ride tradition started a few years ago. There also will be orange bike flags this year. "I think we'll see at least 15 or more riders and crew wearing the bandanas/flags," Cordova said.
George Titterton, 54, who lives in Andersonville, is riding in his second Rideand is the top fundraiser, having already raised more than $10,000.
Patty Dahlquist, who lives in Edgewater and has raised more than $2,000, is one of the top first-time riders. "She's energetic, fun, and passionate about the cause," Cordova said. "She posts a daily, positive affirmation on Facebook, which I always enjoy reading. Meeting her in person you realize that she's as positive as her Facebook posts."
Although organizers of the ride have a long-term goal of raising $1 million, Cordova said it likely will not happen this year, but "it will happen [eventually]," he said.