Miami to Key West
The SMART Ride is one of the foremost fundraisers for HIV/AIDS service organizations in the United States, and now that we’re in the month of November, we are fast approaching the two-day event, now in its eleventh year. On Friday, November 14, riders will leave on their bicycles from MorningStar Renewal Center (7275 SW 124th Street) in Miami, and will embark on a two-day, 165-mile trek all the way down to the finish line at the AIDS Memorial at the White Street Pier in Key West.
The SMART Ride (SMART is an acronym standing for “Southern Most AIDS/HIV Ride Twenty”, as in Twenty-Fourteen) has raised $5.2 million in the last 10 years. With each passing year, the money raised for HIV/AIDS service organizations has only increased. In 2012, over $880,000 was raised by cyclists and donors, and in 2013 The SMART Ride topped the $1 million mark. For The SMART Ride 11, organizers are hoping that all of the fundraisers reach the $1.2 million mark in donations.
Many organizations throughout the state of Florida benefit from The SMART Ride’s fundraising. These organizations include Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center, which serves infants, children, women and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Broward County; Pride Center at Equality Park, which serves LGBT people with HIV/AIDS across South Florida; Metro Wellness & Community Centers, which works with the HIV-positive community (including the LGBT population with HIV) in the Tampa Bay area; Pridelines Youth Services, a resource for LGBTQ youth and their straight allies in Miami-Dade County; AIDS Help, which serves all people affected by HIV/AIDS in Monroe County; Miracle of Love, helping the minority population with HIV/AIDS in Central Florida; and FoundCare’s Comprehensive AIDS Program, the largest organization for people with HIV and AIDS in Palm Beach County.
For people who are participating in The SMART Ride, there is an orientation day that all riders must participate in. This orientation day will be Thursday, November 13, and everyone is expected to meet at the MorningStar Renewal Center between noon and 9 p.m. If Thursday is not convenient, there is another orientation that will be held very early in the morning on Friday, November 14, at 4 a.m. Each rider should expect to be at the orientation for at least 90 minutes. There will be an opening and dedication ceremony at 5 p.m. and a dinner at 6 p.m. All riders MUST bring their bicycle with them to the orientation. Whether you’ve participated in the past or this is your first time, all riders must attend a safety class.
Upon arrival in Key West on Saturday, November 15, riders will meet at the holding area in Key West and will be treated to lunch. After lunch, riders will receive a police escort through the city and down Duval Street to the AIDS Memorial at the White Street Pier. All riders should arrive at the AIDS Memorial around 2 p.m. Afterwards there will be closing ceremonies.
Riders are expected to raise money by having people donate in their name. Each rider is expected to raise at least $1,250 in donations from friends, family and co-workers. As of press time, the top rider has raised over $38,000 for charity, and five others have raised over $10,000!
If you’d like to donate to The SMART Ride and help HIV/AIDS service organizations, you may do so by downloading The SMART Ride Donation Form online at thesmartride.org/donate. Once filled out, you can send it back with your check via the mail. Checks and forms should be sent to 1314 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33301. If you have any questions about the form, or if you’d like to pay by credit card and would rather the information be taken over the phone, you can call 1-866-686-7701. Questions may be directed via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to volunteer, The SMART Ride is looking for food servers, doctors, nurses, massage therapists, truck drivers, and other assorted crew members. Nearly 300 volunteers take time to ensure The SMART Ride runs safely and smoothly. If you’d like to volunteer out on the road, or if you’d like to help with administration or orientation, just e-mail email@example.com and ask what you can do for your community.
The SMART Ride is represented on social media: “Like” them on Facebook by going to facebook.com/thesmartride and follow them on Twitter by going to twitter.com/TheSMARTRideFL. For more information, visit thesmartride.org.