Harbor to the Bay (H2B) – a yearly charity bike ride from Boston to Provincetown to raise money for HIV/AIDS organizations – has a dedicated base of veteran riders and volunteers that make up the H2B family. Like in any family, H2B is always changing and growing, with new additions making it stronger each year. Mikhaela Houston, a first time H2B crew member this year, is excited to join the people who help make this event – and its lifesaving fundraising – such a success.
Mikhaela first heard about H2B when she was volunteering at this year’s AIDS Walk Boston & 5K Run. After her team raised $6,000 during the Walk, she was eager to find the next opportunity to support AIDS Action Committee’s work. The fact that this opportunity involved a trip to a premier vacation destination was a nice bonus. “September on Cape Cod? Sounds perfect to me!” she laughed.
The mission of AIDS Action is one that Mikhaela feels strongly about supporting, for very personal reasons. “My father was among the first waves of people who passed away from AIDS in 1985,” she explained.
Last May, Mikhaela was riding Boston’s Orange Line when she noticed an advertisement for the AIDS Walk. “I thought to myself, ‘Oh, the AIDS Walk is 30-years-old, and it’s been 30 years since my dad passed away. Huh! Maybe I should do that!'” she recalled. “And that’s how I got involved, because of those coinciding anniversaries.”
By volunteering her time to events like the AIDS Walk and the upcoming H2B ride, Mikhaela has found not just the satisfaction of helping an important cause – she’s found healing and community.
“Volunteering helped me emotionally come to grips with what happened to my father,” Mikhaela said. “I met other people who understood and had experienced my same circumstances. I’ve made some really great connections.”
Three decades after the passing of her father, Mikhaela still sees a sense of urgency around HIV/AIDS awareness, and a great need for fundraisers like Harbor to the Bay and organizations like AIDS Action Committee.
“The epidemic hasn’t ended. There are still people who need help and the general public isn’t hearing about that,” she said. “If by being a crew member and handing out water to riders, I can help just one person, then it’s worth it.”
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