SAN JOSE, Calif., November 27, 2012 – For cyclist James Pereira, this World AIDS Day will be something of a homecoming.
Since 1996, the San Jose native has pedaled thousands of miles in dozens of AIDS rides and has raised thousands of dollars for HIV/AIDS programs in cities across the country. But this year, for the first time, he has organized an event here in Silicon Valley to raise money and awareness about local AIDS efforts.
It’s The Health Trust Hike & Bike Silicon Valley, a unique event for cyclists and walkers that will bring the community together to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS.
For Pereira, it’s the realization of a long-time dream.
“Four years ago, I started training a group locally for the San Francisco AIDS Life Cycle and got a sense of how many people care about AIDS in this area,” he said. “If they are willing to put their backs and their bucks into training for an AIDS ride, why couldn’t we do something to raise money locally?”
Pereira, a 49-year-old technical writer, connected with The Health Trust, the largest provider of non-medical HIV/AIDS services in Santa Clara County, to launch Hike & Bike Silicon Valley.
“We wanted to do something that was very visible, with the potential for a lot of fun,” he said. “As we got more and more people in the community involved, including youth and college students, it made me feel more and more thrilled to be involved in it.”
The original concept was a 32-mile bicycle ride throughout San Jose with stops at places of interest to the AIDS community, such as the AIDS Memorial Grove and The Health Trust Food Basket, where low-income people with HIV/AIDS get free food and support services.
To attract more participants, Pereira and Paul Hepfer, Health Trust Vice President for Programs, decided to add two additional options: an 11-mile bike ride and a two-mile walk. Santa Clara University offered to host the event.
“This is an event where people of all ages and all levels of fitness can come out and support the HIV/AIDS cause,” said Hepfer, who oversees The Health Trust AIDS Services. “We are encouraging people to join us – and to enlist friends and family to sponsor them.”
The registration fee is $50 for bikers, $35 for student bikers and $25 for walkers. To register, go to www.svhikeandbike.org .
Hike & Bike will also offer a showcase for an HIV poster and video contest sponsored by the Santa Clara County PACE Clinic. Contest finalists will be displayed at the Locatelli Center on the Santa Clara University campus.
“We hope that this event will start a dialogue about AIDS,” Pereira said. “That’s the piece that’s missing in this area. Nobody talks about it. Raising dollars is one thing, that’s the bulk of why we are doing this. But raising awareness is the real goal.”
Health Trust Hike & Bike Silicon Valley
When: Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012. 32-mile bike ride begins at 9 a.m. 11-mile bike ride and 2-mile walk begin at 10 a.m.
Where: Event begins at Locatelli Student Activity center, Santa Clara University
Sponsored by: The Health Trust
Hosted by: Santa Clara University
Benefitting: The Health Trust AIDS Services
About The Health Trust AIDS Services
The Health Trust provides services to Santa Clara County residents with HIV/AIDS and empowers patients and families including emergency assistance, food, home care, rental subsidies and case management. For more information visit www.healthtrust.org.
About World AIDS Day
World AIDS Day has been held on Dec. 1 each year since 1988 and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
For information contact:
Patty Fisher, The Health Trust