Our Stories

Meet Tom Hennes, BRAKING AIDS Ride 2016

Meet Tom Hennes, BRAKING AIDS Ride 2016

Photo by: Alan Barnett

Each September over 100 bicyclists, or as we here at Housing Works call them, endurance activists, ride 285 miles from Boston to New York City as part of the BRAKING AIDS® Ride. Though the three-day ride is fully supported by staff and crew, it requires a level of commitment above and beyond a typical donation. Over the next couple months, Housing Works will highlight these supporters in our Community Stories.

This month, we caught up with Tom Hennes, one of the 20 Riders this year committed to raising at least $20,000 EACH to support Housing Works’ life-saving services and the AIDS-Free NY 2020 campaign focused on ending AIDS as an epidemic in New York State by 2020.

Housing Works: Name, location, and occupation
TH: Tom Hennes. I live in lower Manhattan. I’m an exhibition designer, which is not quite the same as an exhibitionist. Mostly, I design museums and aquariums and similar public experiences.

HW: How long have you been participating in the BRAKING AIDS® Ride?
TH: My friend Scott Sheidlower, who’s one of our heroic volunteers, mentioned the ride to me last year. So this is my second.

HW: What does participating in the Ride mean to you?
TH: I’ve been HIV+ for thirty years. Housing Works has been central in the fight against AIDS and particularly within the most vulnerable communities. I’ve been lucky—I survived long enough for effective treatments to come on line, and I have had access to great health care throughout the epidemic. So many people are less fortunate, and raising $30,000 for this year’s Ride is an opportunity to give something of myself to benefit others.

HW: When you’re not training for the Ride, what do you do? 
TH: I work a lot. I spend a great deal of time traveling, because so much of my work is overseas, and that’s fantastic, always new situations, new ideas, new insights, and exposure to other ways of seeing the world. When I’m home, I ride for fun. Staying fit is a part of keeping healthy, and it’s a way of giving myself space away from the pressures of work—a very focused kind of alone-time.

HW: What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about doing a physical challenge event like the BRAKING AIDS® Ride?
TH: Train at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Stay with it but don’t overdo it. Do the Second Saturday rides—they’re a great way to meet others and to be part of the culture of the ride. [The next Second Saturday Training Ride is July 9th.] And enjoy yourself! The training rides are fantastic, whether alone or with others, and the fundraising is a wonderful opportunity to give others the chance to be a part of your journey.

To learn more about the BRAKING AIDS® Ride click here or contact Blake Strasser at or 212-989-1111. To register for the next Second Saturday Training Ride on July 9th, click here. For more information about other Team BRAKING AIDS® events, contact Eileen Casterline at or 347-473-7402.

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