Schiff to be first congress member to attempt AIDS/LifeCycle Ride

Rep. Adam Schiff with Damian Kevitt before the now annual “Finish the Ride,” which raises awareness about the epidemic of hit-and-runs with bikes across our community. Photo courtesy Rep. Adam Schiff’s office.
May 24, 2014

By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California

“It’s very much my first time; in fact, up until five weeks ago, I think the longest ride I ever took was something like 25 or 30 miles,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, who will next week make history to become the first US Congress member to participate in an AIDS bicycle fundraising campaign – at least so directly.

AIDS/LifeCycle Ride wends its way down the beautiful California coast.

AIDS/LifeCycle Ride wends its way down the beautiful California coast.

Or at least he’ll begin directly. “We’ll see if I can make it [to the end],” he said, laughing.

Self-deprecation aside, the new West Hollywood congress member (Rep. Schiff began representing West Hollywood in 2013 when redistricting placed the Creative City into one that runs north to Pasadena and La Canada/Flintridge) sees the AIDS/LifeCycle ride as an important function for any civic minded person.

“I did have the opportunity to speak at the closing ceremony last year,” he told WeHo News, “which was a real treat – it was a real moving event. I remember saying to myself that, if the week the ride takes place coincides with a recess week where we didn’t have any votes, than I would love to do it.”

It’s funny how the mind works; my mom always warned about thinking things – I might receive them.

And so, “Little did I know that that would happen so soon,” the congress member declared.

Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat serving West Hollywood, has been wearing suits for a long time. It's time to see him in bike tights.

Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat serving West Hollywood, has been wearing suits for a long time. It’s time to see him in bike tights.

He had to admit that although he thought he might be the first congress member to ride, “before I accept any honors I want to be sure I can get across the finish line.”

We checked in with Lorri Jean, the Executive Director of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and the person who has seen the LAGLC’s Ride AIDS/LifeCycle Ride birthed out of the Dan Pallotta AIDS Ride debacle in which it was discovered that Mr. Pallotta had skimped on donations to beneficiaries, funneled services to businesses he controlled under guise of another identity and over-billed for those services.

According to Ms. Jean, yes, Representative Adam Schiff will be the first United States Congress person to ride in the AIDS/LifeCycle Ride.

For some distance, anyway. Rep. Schiff suggested asking you all how far you thought he might get.

He knows he’ll be sore from the effort, but looks forward to trying. “it’s such a good cause and benefits so many of my constituents and those from around Los Angeles and the region and beyond, and I’m glad to participate.”

The ride will deliver him unto the Los Angeles basin on the day before he is set to appear once again in the West Hollywood CSW Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade, as he did last year.

“The only way I can do it is sitting in a very soft set,” he said.

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FACTS: AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

AIDS/LifeCycle 2014 will take place June 1st through June 7th, 2014.

Every year, this landmark ride through beautiful California delivers a life-changing experience for thousands of participants from all backgrounds and fitness levels united by a common desire to do something heroic.

It’s easy to think that HIV/AIDS is no longer a problem.

Medications have come a long way, and people are living longer, healthier lives. This is why the work of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center is so vital.

These agencies continue to provide the critical services and education needed to meet the growing needs of our community.

We ride to raise awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS among participants, their donors, and the general public. We ride because—in the current economy—our agencies need these funds more than ever. Ultimately, we ride so that someday, we won’t have to.

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AIDS is not over

In California alone there are 151,000 people living with HIV. Nationally, 70 percent of all new infections occur in communities of color and people under the age of 25 are increasingly affected.

The costs associated with medical care and treatment for a person with HIV are about $20,000 per year.

Access to life-saving drugs, clinical trials and state-of-the-art treatment helps those with the disease live a longer and better quality of life. AIDS/LifeCycle will help those living with HIV/AIDS gain greater independence and get the treatment and care they need.

Prevention services geared towards high-risk populations will ensure that future generations will not experience the same level of loss that we have faced in the last two decades.

As the number of people living with HIV increases, so does the need for the services provided by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the two agencies producing this event.

AIDS/LifeCycle is the only AIDS fundraising bicycle event in California organized by the non-profit agencies that will benefit from the money raised by its participants.

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Our sole concern is providing critical services to people living with HIV and AIDS. Your support and commitment to this event is pivotal to our success. Your participation and the monies you raise will allow us to provide these critical services.

In Los Angeles…

  • More than 31,448 people have died of AIDS-related causes since the epidemic began.
  • More than 44,450 people are living with HIV, of which 24,600 are living with AIDS. Most are male (88%) and aged 40 or older (70%). An estimated 72% are gay or bisexual men, 7% of whom are also injection drug users.
  • Although African-Americans comprise less than 9% of the city’s population, they account for nearly 22% of those living with AIDS.
  • The communities with the highest numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS are Long Beach, Hollywood, West Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles.

Rep. Adam Schiff with Damian Kevitt before the now annual “Finish the Ride,” which raises awareness about the epidemic of hit-and-runs with bikes across our community. Photo courtesy Rep. Adam Schiff’s office.

Rep. Adam Schiff with Damian Kevitt before the now annual “Finish the Ride,” which raises awareness about the epidemic of hit-and-runs with bikes across our community. Photo courtesy Rep. Adam Schiff’s office.