One can’t help but smile when you spot Wendell York out and about on a ride. An avid cyclist, spin instructor, healthcare administrator, and overall positive spirit and good guy, this is Wendell’s third year being involved with AV200. Read on to learn more about Wendell’s story, why he rides for AV200, and how he came to join the AV200 family.
Why are you participating in AV200? You ask me why I ride my bike 200 miles? In memory of Kenneth Becker, this is why I do it………….. My high school friend Lisa Becker wrote the following on my Facebook wall:
My brother had a transfusion in ’81. His finger was cut off in an accident and he lost four pints of blood. My brother died of AIDS in 1995 two years after my parents were killed. He had lived with it for seven years. My parents knew that he had it, but they had know idea what my brother would go through at the end. He was doing fine, or should I say he was coping, but while he was at Piedmont Hospital for pneumonia, his lungs filled with fluid, and he couldn’t fight it. He was so brave and such a fighter. I was with him when he drew his last breath. I told him it was alright to let go and join mom and dad. I told him how proud I was to be his sister and that he was such a brave man, but that it was ok to leave that we would be ok………..It was terrible to watch my brother shrink from 170 lbs to 70 lbs. He had lung cancer, diabetes, was blind in one eye, but he kept going……I miss him….Thank you Wendell for your fundraising for research….I hope it will bring a cure…..My brother’s square travels with the quilt. It was the very least we could do…….Hugs.
Thanks Lisa for sharing your story…………….
What makes it personal for you? As a healthcare administrator, I’ve seen the fear of the unknown on those that know their end is drawing near. This look is all it takes to make it personal to anyone.
How did you learn about the AV200? I was teaching a spin class, and was approached to join a team in 2010, and thought, “Why not? Since I can ride 100 miles. Let’s just ride 200, while raising funds for a worthy cause!”
Are you doing any unique fundraising activities for the event? One of our team fundraisers is Beer Bash for a Cause. Once we started putting this event together, Urban Body Fitness stepped up to be a sponsor, simpledesignworks produced our flyer free of charge, and DJ Corey D offered his services to spin for the event. We had a cruise for two donated by gobahama.com, and administrivia.com donated an Xbox 360. These items will be auctioned off to the highest bidder at our event on April 14th at Cowtippers. All the proceeds will go directly to the Emory Vaccine Center.
What I’ve found is that having fundraisers is a great way to build team spirit, and raise funds at the same time, so it is a win for all.
Do you participate in other rides for HIV/AIDS research? One of our team participants has done the Smart Ride, and has asked if I’d like to join him for the Smart Ride this November. So who knows? You might see me in my lycra riding from Miami to Key West!
As a returner, what aspects do you look forward to most about the ride? The most memorable moment for me would have to be at the end of day two. As all the riders gather in Decatur, we divide up and create a hall/passage. One of the AV200 riders will then push a bike without a rider down this passage. This riderless bike represents the invisible rider, or the riders we have lost to AIDS. Someone with a microphone explains this symbolism to all the new riders, and there is usually not a dry eye in the crowd.