Bicyclists sought to ride to help AIDS Project

Malama Pono, Kaua’i’s AIDS Project, is calling for bicyclists to help the fight against HIV/AIDS and join the 85-mile Kaua’i leg of the statewide Paradise Ride, on July 22-23.

The 5th Annual Paradise Ride has added single-day rides on July 21 on O’ahu and July 22 on Kaua’i, and bicyclists still have until July 5 to sign up.

Not only is the Paradise Ride a way to help HIV awareness and raise money for Kaua’i’s only non-profit HIV/AIDS agency, it’s also a great way to see Kaua’i from a different vantage point.

Riders will travel about 45 miles the first day; and the second day’s ride is about 39 miles.

The two-day ride will start in the morning at the Lihue Airport and riders will have rest stops throughout the day. At the end of the first day, riders will camp overnight at ‘Anini Beach Park.

The second day, riders will go over the back roads of Kapahi and Wailua, eventually ending back at the airport.

Kaua’i riders will pay a $50 registration fee and are expected to raise at least $450 each.

Skill is not a factor in the Paradise Ride. A van will follow the riders along their journey to make sure they are progressing safely, and will pick up riders if they can’t continue, said Helen Juliano, Malama Pono’s event coordinator.

Mountain bikes, road bicycles, or hybrids fitted with road tires are appropriate, said Keoki Gosselin, a Kaua’i volunteer who participated in last year’s Ride. Riders must show proof of medical insurance and wear protective gear during the ride (at least a helmet).

Malama Pono needs volunteers for setting up and taking down the campsite at Anini Beach Park, food service, traffic control, route marking, bike transport, massage and bike technical support.

Money raised on the Kaua’i ride will benefit Malama Pono’s prevention and education efforts and expand services.

“We’ve gotten a lot of requests from cyclists who would love to experience the Paradise Ride but can’t bike 360 miles or devote an entire week, so this year we added the single-day rides,” said Julie Folk, ride director.

The goal of the Paradise Ride is to raise awareness and funds for Hawaii’s five comprehensive, non-profit HIV/AIDS service agencies: the Life Foundation on O’ahu, Malama Pono AIDS Project on Kaua’i, Maui AIDS Foundation, Big Island AIDS Project in Hilo and West Hawaii AIDS Foundation in Kona.

The Paradise Ride is Hawai’i’s only multi-day athletic fundraiser for HIV/AIDS services. In the program’s five years, more than 324 participants and hundreds more volunteers have raised more than $1.2 million.

The statewide Paradise Ride began in 1998 by a group of 39 riders. This year with the Kaua’i ride, Malama Pono hopes to receive about $50,000 for education and awareness programs, treatment and other services. “This is a community-service organization, not a gay-centered organization,” said Keoki Gosselin.

Past riders have included friends and families of those affected by HIV/AIDS, straight and same-sex couples, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, even someone who completed the ride in a wheelchair-bike.

“Each year, we see cyclists and volunteers come from all over the islands and the world to experience a fun and challenging event, support Hawaii residents living with HIV/AIDS, and to help educate all Hawaii about HIV/AIDS,” Folk said.

The Paradise Ride can be reached at: 233 Keawe St., Ste. 226, Honolulu, HI 96813; 1-888-285-9866, 521-2437 ext. 238; via fax 521-1279; www.paradiseridehawaii.org and via email at info@paradiseridehwaii.org.

Cyclists interested in the Kaua’i portion should call Helen Juliano at Malama Pono Kauai AIDS Foundation at 246-9577.

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