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Wonder Woman: Meet Physical Activist Courtney Maier Burbela

Wonder Woman: Meet Physical Activist Courtney Maier Burbela

The countdown has begun for Housing Works’ civil rights march on two wheels, BRAKING AIDS® Ride. From September 12 – 14, physical activists of all stripes will come together to ride 285 miles from Boston to NYC to raise funds and awareness for our mission to end AIDS and homelessness. One of our most creative activists, Courtney Maier Burbela is celebrating her tenth year and nearly 3,000 miles logged to honor close friends she lost. Over the years, Courtney employed her marketing expertise – from throwing a pig roast to getting “tattooed” – to raise money for the Ride. Read below to learn more about this wonder woman:

Housing Works: Tell us a little about yourself – where you live, what you do for a living.
Courtney Maier Burbela: I work for myself – I’m a Marketing Consultant specializing in visual arts. I live in New Jersey with my awesome husband Pete and his crazy 87 year-old father Nestor.

HW: How did you first hear about and become involved with Housing Works?
CMB: This year will be my 10th year riding the BRAKING AIDS Ride. I got involved with Housing Works through the ride. After my first fundraising event for HW, I realized that one of my dear friends lived in Cylar House. Knowing someone whose life was saved because of Housing Works made all of this really personal for me.

HW: What inspires and motivates you to participate in physical challenge events?
CMB: I did my first 300-mile ride in 2001. I had never done anything that physically challenging and I wanted to experience myself as an athlete. Now I ride to keep moving, and for bragging rights.

HW: Any tips on fundraising and/or training that you’d like to share?
CMB: I’ve done lots of different things to raise money. I had several tattoo fundraisers where I sold my body parts and I offered to have anything you want drawn on that particular area in sharpie for the duration of the ride. And two years ago my chef-husband suggested that we throw a hog roast to raise money. The first year we raised $6,000 and last year we raised $12,000. It takes a lot of planning and it’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

HW: What has been the most meaningful aspect of your experience with BRAKING AIDS® Ride?
CMB: I’ve lost so many friends to AIDS; the ride is a way for me to honor them. Not just remember them fondly, but also actually DO something about it. The ride gives me the opportunity to transform my sadness and frustration about the AIDS epidemic into positive action. Every time I do the ride I come home a little more healed and a little more invincible.

HW: Any particular stories from the road that exemplify your experience?
CMB: This ride is a blast from beginning to end. There isn’t one story that stands out. It is 4 days of hugs, hysterical one-liners, encouraging others, being supported, show tunes, an occasional tutu and gorgeous countryside.
But when I just sit and think about the ride, I just can’t help but smile one of those deep soulful smiles that comes from knowing that I am a part of changing people’s lives.

To learn more about the Ride, register, or RSVP for a Ride Preview, visit brakingaidsride.org.

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