David Minehart’s old address book is a haunting reminder of the ruthlessness with which HIV/AIDS hit the gay community in the 1990s.
“It’s almost cliché to say now, but every page has one or two names crossed off.”
Fifteen or so years later, Minehart is alarmed that the instances of HIV/AIDS in young gay men is once again on the rise. “It’s frustrating because [the trend is evidence that] they are basically ignoring history.”
These days, however, Minehart, a White Rock area resident and event manager of the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, is doing something to combat the spread of the disease and help those affected by it.
After spending a decade as a court reporter, Minehart was looking for a meaningful career change. He landed a job at AIDS Services of Dallas, and two years ago took the helm at Lone Star Ride, in which he had participated for the first time in 2001.
The 2009 two-day ride, which winds through Dallas and Fort Worth, is scheduled for September 26 and 27, beginning at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center near DFW Airport.
The annual tour, which benefits three local organizations — Resource Center of Dallas, AIDS Services of Dallas, and AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County — provides participants with an emotional and rewarding challenge, says cyclist and event senior co-chair Arlen Miller.
“Our most ardent volunteers know someone with, or have lost someone to AIDS. Many people I know have been touched by it,” says Miller, a Lake Highlands resident who was convinced to ride back in 2005. “I ran into an HIV-positive friend at a restaurant and I mentioned to him that I was teaching a spin class. He told me about the [180-mile] ride … I told him I didn’t think I could do it. He looked at me like I was crazy, like, ‘Let me get this straight, I can do it but you, a spin teacher, can’t’?’ So, I was in.”
Each entrant must raise at least $500, and Miller says the fundraising intimidated him more than the physical challenge. “I really surprised myself when I realized I was pretty good at fundraising. It wasn’t that hard.”
With little effort, Miller raised $5,500. “I said to myself, what could I do if I really tried?” The next year, he raised $12,000.
Since its inception, Lone Star Ride has given more than $1.7 million to its beneficiaries. The money raised helps to educate, treat, house and counsel people affected by AIDS.
“It is important for people to know that AIDS is not over,” says Minehart. “Every year in this country, 14,000 people still die from this. Thankfully, there are medicines out there that are improving and prolonging lives of AIDS victims, but longer lives means the need for more health care and support services.”
This year’s goal is to register 250 riders and raise $280,000, an “ambitious, but definitely obtainable goal,” Minehart says.
Miller says crossing the finish line was a hugely rewarding moment that gave him “that wow feeling”, but those not quite prepared to tackle the terrain on two wheels can opt to join the Lone Star Ride crew, for a similarly satisfying experience.
Crewmembers are encouraged, though not required, to raise money prior to the event. Their main job is to motivate riders and man the pit stops along the route. Riders and crew alike will no doubt gain something immeasurable by getting involved, says Miller.
“You learn just how many people are affected by this, and you’ll learn you can do things you might not have thought that you could do before.”
Lone Star Ride events
The Lone Star Ride Kick-off party: May 31 from 2-5 p.m. at the Salum Restaurant, 4152 Cole
Rider orientations: June 4 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Resource Center of Dallas, 2701 Reagan; and July 9 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel Dallas, 8250 N. Central
The Lone Star Ride Casino Party and Fundraiser: July 31 from 7-10:30 p.m. at the Hilton Dallas/Park Cities, 5954 Luther
The Wrap Party: Oct. 25 from 2-5 p.m. at Salum Restaurant
The Lone Star Ride is September 26 and 27 at American Airlines Training and Conference Center near DFW Airport. For details about Lone Star events, or to donate to a rider, visit lonestarride.org.