With this year’s Harbor to the Bay (H2B) charity bike ride less than one month away, longtime rider Andi Genser is gearing up to once again trek the 126 miles from Boston to Provincetown, all to benefit the AIDS Action Committee. A former AIDS Action employee and organizer of past fundraiser the Red Ribbon Ride, Andi was already a veteran of HIV/AIDS charity events when she rode her first Harbor to the Bay.
“I really could see firsthand the work that [AIDS Action] was doing, and I could see how having flexible money from rides would help the organization,” she said. “Once I started doing [Harbor to the Bay], I decided I would always ride for AIDS Action.”
Andi first began riding in HIV/AIDS fundraisers in the late 1990s, participating in the Boston to New York charity ride. For her, the AIDS epidemic had hit close to home.
“Like a lot of us, I had lost many friends and family members of friends to AIDS,” she explained. “I had seen the disease so up close and personal that I wanted to do something concrete to help.”
While training for her first AIDS ride, Andi found herself becoming an avid cyclist. She joined more and more rides with each passing year, becoming a part of the H2B family six years ago.
Andi has some advice to offer to those who are new to H2B and AIDS fundraising in general. “You never know who’s been touched by the disease,” she said. “I’ve found that people will donate a surprising amount and then learn that they’ve lost a friend, a brother, a cousin, to AIDS. People sometimes don’t talk about it a lot still because of the stigma.”
During each H2B, Andi has encountered powerful moments that stick with her over the years – meeting HIV-positive riders, watching supporters cheer from the sidelines, or seeing someone complete their first ride. She tells these stories to raise not just money, she said, but awareness around how important the ride is for so many people.
Every time Andi prepares for a ride, it’s with the hope that such rides will someday no longer be needed. “I decided that I was going to ride my bike for AIDS fundraising until I didn’t have to do it anymore, or until I literally couldn’t,” she said. “Hopefully, one of these days I’m going to be able to stop.”
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