AUGUST 11, 1997
Bill Walker with his wife, Cathy, and children, (l-r) Joe, 14, Jessie, 7, and Steve, 11.
Photo courtesy of Bill Walker
Ride strives to raise awareness of AIDS
by Deborah Stone
Since 1981 some twenty million people have been infected with HIV worldwide and 4.5 million of them have developed AIDS. The disease has killed over 270,000 people in the US. and almost 10,000 people in Canada over the last fifteen years. For American men between the ages of 25-44, AIDS remains the leading cause of death. In the past two years there has been some hope for people living with HIV through a series of drugs known as protease inhibitors.
The reality of the situation, however, is that there is still no cure for AIDS, and the epidemic continues to persist. The primary tools to fight this disease remain education and prevention. Ride for a Reason was conceived by leaders of six AIDS service organizations in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia as a way to raise money to help individuals living with HIV/AIDS and to elevate the level of awareness and support for the fight against this epidemic.
It is the first international ride to benefit AIDS education and care services and will take place the weekend of August 14-17. The four day, 200 mile event will begin in Vancouver, B.C. and end in Seattle. According to Ride spokesperson Jocelyn Milia, "The ride is not a race, but an event where participants are riding with passion and determination for their own personal goals."
Some of the riders will be riding to remember a friend, companion or family member who died from AIDS and others will be participating because they know someone who is currently living with the disease.
Riders are expected to raise at least $1,500 each in pledges, and the event expects to attract 1,000 riders. The money raised will go towards AIDS organizations and in Seattle, the primary beneficiaries are Bailey-Boushay House, Chicken Soup Brigade, Northwest AIDS foundation and People of Color Against AIDS Network.
Renowned cyclist Greg LeMond is the official spokesperson for Ride for a Reason. He says, "Everyone has to realize that this is a disease that affects everybody. Bicycling has been a very strong way to raise funds for AIDS. It's not only fun, but it's for a great reason. I think that anybody who's caring should come out and do something, give something back."
Bill Walker of Bothell is one rider who is participating in the event to honor the memory of several people close to him who lost their lives to AIDS. His cousin passed away last year before Bill had a chance to say good-bye, and Bill feels that riding will be paying him his final respects. He also lost his guitar teacher from his junior high years, a man who encouraged creativity and instilled in him a lasting love of music.
Bill says, "A year and a half ago, a friend from work went through the process of watching her brother die of AIDS. I realize that AIDS touches everyone, and the chances are that someone close to you will die of this disease. By riding, I hope to help others from having to go through the pain of losing someone you love to AIDS."
This is Walker's first time participating in a ride of any kind. He sent 220 letters to get funding and has raised over $2000 at present. To prepare for the ride, he has taken various rides throughout the summer and keeps in good shape by working out a few times a week with weights and a rowing machine. His wife Cathy and three children, Joe, Jessie and Steve, are very supportive of his decision to participate in the Ride for a Reason and will be there to encourage him.
Walker is a human resource management consultant with his own company, Goodfellow Management Services. He says, "I really hope that the ride will help gain the needed support to fight this devastating disease, and that someday a cure will be found."
For more information on Ride for a Reason call 206-322- BIKE.