Each September hundreds of bicyclists, or as we here at Housing Works call them, endurance activists, ride 285 miles from Boston to NYC as part of 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. The riders form teams – really quasi families – who train and fundraise together, all in the fight to end AIDS and homelessness. Over the next few months, Housing Works will highlight these supporters in our Community Stories.
This month we caught up with Beth Shapiro and her son, Jordan, both riding in this year’s BRAKING AIDS® Ride. They are part of Team Isharo, who Beth describes as “a giant, a**-kicking love fest.”
Housing Works: Tell us where you live and what you do.
Beth Shapiro: I live in Pleasantville, NY. I’m executive director of City Meals-on-Wheels.
Jordan Shapiro: I’m 19 years old and live in Pleasantville, NY. I’m a sophomore at Babson College .
HW: How did you learn about the Ride? How long have you been participating?
BS: My first AIDS ride was in 1999 with the Pallotta Boston to NY ride. I also rode in 2000. Then I took a break for a few years because my kids were young and training was a challenge to juggle with work and spending time with them. I came back to the BAR family in 2004 to ride for my 40th birthday. I have either ridden or crewed every year but one since then.
JS: I learned about the Ride from my mother. This will be my first year riding, but I have volunteered at closing ceremonies for a few years when my mom drove the gear truck.
HW: What does participating in the Ride mean to you?
BS: It’s actually beyond words, hard to explain. My brother died of AIDS in 1987. I began riding to honor his memory and I thought it would be a onetime thing. But it’s not a onetime thing for me. I think of my brother all the time. But the ride gives me the chance to forget about the outside world for a few days, dig deep to get through the challenge of the ride, remember his fierce battle with AIDS and the amazing person he was. The BRAKING AIDS® Ride community is a family, an incredible one that fully embraces every single member with open arms. I can think of no better way to show my children to be caring, compassionate and responsible people with an understanding of their uncle’s life.
JS: Seeing how much my mom believes in the Ride and the work Housing Works does has inspired me to partake this year. Being able to honor my uncle who died of AIDS in 1987 means a lot to me despite never being fortunate enough to meet him. It is also important to me to support my mom and ride along side of her for the first time.
HW: What is your best piece of advice or encouragement to a first-time Rider or someone considering riding?
BS: LISTEN TO BLAKE [Strasser, BRAKING AIDS® Ride coach]! Train appropriately. Fundraise like crazy because the cause is bigger than all of us. Don’t hesitate—it will be one of the most challenging but best weekends of your life.
JS: I am a first year rider so I could use all the advice and encouragement I can get.
HW: What is the most fun or creative thing you’ve done for the Ride so far?
BS:: I can’t think of just one. I enjoy riding and feel it’s what I “should” do. But crewing is fun. I drove the gear truck my first year as crew with my teammates Amy & Andrea. It was so hard, so much lifting, but we had a blast! We started these awards for different things—most stylish luggage, heaviest, lightest, etc. that still live on today.
HW: When you’re not on your bikes, what do you do?
BS: I’m not on my bike a lot. I work for a nonprofit that consumes much of my time. I spend as much time as possible with my kids who are now in college and graduate school so I take what I can get.
JS: When I’m not riding I am a student and a college lacrosse player. I haven’t ridden a bike in at least five years, so getting back on a bike is a challenge even though the expression is true that you never truly forget how to ride a bike.
Learn more about BRAKING AIDS® Ride here. You can support the Ride in our thrift stores during the month of August by signing a red dress that will be worn by a Rider on Day 2 of the Ride. For more information, contact Blake Strasser (and listen to her!) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-989-1111.blog comments powered by Disqus