Each year, over one hundred athletes train for races around NYC and beyond to raise money and awareness for Housing Works’ lifesaving services. Two of this year’s events are the United Airlines NYC Half on March 20 and the BRAKING AIDS® Ride September 23-25, a three-day fully supported bike ride from Boston to New York. These endurance activists put out a level of commitment above and beyond a typical donation. Over the next few months, Housing Works will highlight some of these supporters in our Community Stories.
This month we caught up with Jamil Wilkins who is both running for Team BRAKING AIDS® in the United Airlines NYC Half AND riding in this year’s BRAKING AIDS® Ride.
Housing Works: Name, location, and occupation
Jamil: Jamil Eric Wilkins, Jersey City Heights, New Jersey. HIV health and leadership coach in training at Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching in NYC (iPEC-NYC). As an HIV health and leadership coach, I will be certified to begin my own life-coaching practice in NYC.
HW: How long have you been participating with Team BRAKING AIDS® and the BRAKING AIDS® Ride?
JW: I’m new to Team Braking AIDS® and I feel it’s exactly where I belong. It wasn’t until the Braking AIDS® Ride in September of 2015 that I became aware of the impact that my story could have on others living with HIV. So, here I am, falling in love with Team Braking AIDS® after a few months and celebrating my 10th anniversary as a runner by preparing for the upcoming United Airlines NYC Half Marathon.
HW: What does participating in these events mean to you?
JW: Participating in rides and races to back Housing Works in fighting HIV and homelessness is an opportunity to tell my story by living it. I live my story by stepping in front of my condition and proving that I can thrive as a strong and healthy runner or cyclist. Far too often people living with HIV are faced with fears and doubts brought on by stigma. I want my journey to be an example of what it means to separate HIV from the person living with it in order to access more opportunities. My participation in these events is also a chance to learn how others are thriving. The exposure makes me more grateful for the strength and courage that I have.
HW: When you’re not training for the half marathon or the Ride, what do you do?
JW: Do signing up and fundraising for the half marathon and Ride count? I’m kidding. When I do take time to slow down, I aim to provide value using my time or words. I’m grateful to also be part of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) family and support events such as the annual three-hour indoor fundraiser with Monster Cycle, the annual Zumba® Fitness AIDS fundraiser, and the annual NYC Pride March. Aside from volunteerism, I’ve committed to expanding my blog, a series of videos to share my everyday lessons as a runner using athleticism to overcome HIV and other life-changing events. Those lessons are currently being converted into a single story that will be published as a novel to offset my work as an HIV health and leadership coach. Much time goes into finding information for the book as well as poetry. My most recent piece, “Stigma Undressed,” was published by HIV Equal.
HW: What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about doing a physical challenge event like the half marathon or BRAKING AIDS® Ride?
JW: Whether you’re running 13.1 miles or riding 285 miles, the pain will pass, so when you are tired and want to give up, push harder and move faster. It’s in this moment that you decide who you want to be by the time you cross the finish line.
For more information about Team BRAKING AIDS®, email Eileen Casterline or 347-473-7402, and to learn more about the BRAKING AIDS® Ride click here or contact Blake Strasser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-989-1111.blog comments powered by Disqus