Tracy Stice is ready to go the extra mile—545, to be exact—to help fund the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Next month, Stice, a Realtor®-Broker with Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers, will join thousands of cyclists for the annual AIDS/LifeCycle, a seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Calif. Since its inception 11 years ago, AIDS/LifeCycle has raised more than $86 million for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which develop and implement programs to prevent new infections and provide those living with HIV access to medical care, counseling and housing.
In addition to raising funds for the life-saving services of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the AIDS/LifeCycle event also increases awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS and inspires participants to become ambassadors in the fight against AIDS.
“There’s still no cure for this disease,” Stice said. “We can’t forget about it.”
According to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, more than 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV/AIDS—and one in eight of them don’t know it. In 2015, nearly 40,000 people were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States. Since the pandemic began in the early 1980s, 78 million people worldwide have contracted HIV, 35 million have died of AIDS-related illnesses, and at the end of 2015, 36.7 million people were living with HIV around the globe.
Every mile he pedals, Stice will be making a difference in the lives of those living with or at risk of HIV/AIDS. He’s also making a difference for himself. “I’ve had some health issues over the past year,” Stice explained. “This was an opportunity for me to take control of my health. It’s me making a statement about wanting to be around.”
Stice is no cycling novice; he’s logged plenty of miles over the years. Stice swapped his old mountain bike for his first road bike in 1995, and since then, he’s cycled up and down the East Coast, through Europe and Japan, and along just about every stretch of blacktop on Maui. In fact, on any given Sunday, he’s awake before dawn, gearing up for a long ride. And he doesn’t take the easy route: Stice is not one to shy away from steep hills, rough terrain or inclement weather.
Stice already has one AIDS/LifeCycle under his belt. In 2007, a friend convinced him to register for the event. “He told me, ‘You’re doing this,’” Stice said. “So I did it.” Clearly, 545 miles (punctuated by several hard climbs and a few busy freeways) is no small feat, but Stice says he embraced the challenge 10 years ago—and he’s still up for the task a decade later. “It’s all about fun, fitness and friends. The best way to describe it is a rolling party,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to doing it again. I know it will be harder, now that I’m 10 years older, but I’m ready for it.”
Stice threw himself into training for this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle three months ago. Among other things, he’s been pedaling long distances several times a week and paddling regularly (he’s an active member of the Na Kai Ewalu Canoe Club). Stice has also been busy collecting donations from supporters and said he hopes to surpass his fundraising goal. “Any amount helps,” he said. “It’s all for a good cause.”
At 65, Stice says this year’s AIDS/LifeCycle is a bucket list item. “This ride is as much about a bucket list for me as a fundraiser for a great cause,” he said. (Also on that list: The Molokai Hoe, a 41-mile outrigger canoe race from Molokai to Oahu across the Kaiwi Channel, which takes place in October.)
Stice says he’s expecting sore muscles, bouts of exhaustion and a stiff backside next month, but the aches and pains are worth it. “I know I’m doing this for a good cause and that’s what will keep me going,” he said. “Givers always gain. If you give without expecting anything in return, you’re going to come out ahead.”
To learn more about AIDS/LifeCycle, visit www.aidslifecycle.org.
By Sarah Ruppenthal
The Maui News – May 13, 2017