PRESS RELEASE:Â San Francisco Declares April 30 â€œPositive Pedalerâ€ Day
On Friday, April 30, at 11:30 a.m. San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Dufty will present a proclamation declaring â€œPositive Pedalers Dayâ€ in San Francisco. Members and supporters plan to ride their bicycles to the event, to be held on the steps of City Hall. In addition, if his schedule allows it, Mayor Gavin Newsom will present his own proclamation.
The Positive Pedalers are people living with HIV/AIDS committed to building a supportive and inclusive community for others and themselves through participation in bicycle-related activities, particularly AIDS Lifecycle. They were founded 15 years ago.Â In 1996 Jonathan Pon, Donald David Ferhenbach and others formally launched the Positive Pedalers. Pon died in December 2001, and an annual Positive Pedalers ride in northern California is named in his memory.
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Today, nationwide membership in the Positive Pedalers numbers close to 1,000 with hundreds of members living in the San Francisco Bay area. Since their founding, the Positive Pedalers have raised more than $8 million for AIDS services and programs.
Speaking at the event, along with Mayor Newsom and Supervisor Dufty, will be San Francisco AIDS Foundation interim CEO Barbara Kimport, and Positive Pedaler member Kaya Dzambic. Dzambic will be participating in her first AIDS Lifecycle this June, and she is riding in memory of her brother. Though positive for several years, she has only recently decided to let others know she is HIV Positive.
â€œWhen I stand before people in my Positive Pedaler cycling jersey, I want them to know Iâ€™m not just wearing this shirt for me, but for the hundreds, if not thousands who are silent. Iâ€™m hoping when they see me they will realize they are not alone and donâ€™t need to be scared.Â â€œItâ€™s the only way we can eliminate stigma. I stigmatized myself with my silence. The Positive Pedalers give me the courage not to be afraid.â€
Known as the â€œPos Peds,â€ members have had the honor of leading-out theÂ AIDS Lifecycle rides in San Francisco, as well as leading the group into the L.A. arena at the end of the ride. They are identified by their orange Positive Pedaler flags on their bicycles, and distinctive jerseys that recognize people as members. In addition, the organization boasts a large number of supporters, who wear Positive Pedaler supporter jerseys on rides.
â€œThe jerseys and the flags are an important part of our identity,â€ says BeauThomson, co-chair of the organization. â€œThose who see us riding down the road during ALC need to know that people living with HIV are helping raise funds as well as remove stigma that surrounds this disease. The funds we raise nationwide help the larger or all communities of those living with HIV, as well as some of our own members.â€
The Positive Pedalers have members throughout the United States as well as in Europe, Africa and Australia. They participate in cycling events throughout the year, raising awareness and funds for numerous HIV and AIDS-related programs and services. The largest event in which they participate is AIDS Lifecycle, which will take place June 6 â€“12, leaving from San Franciscoâ€™s Cow Palace and ending in Los Angeles. This event raises funds for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the AIDS and HIV programs at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.