Can The SMART Ride Pedal On?

Photo via SMART Ride, Facebook.

Over the course of 20 rides, the SMART Ride has done more than raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS services in Florida. It’s built a community. Now the ride is ending, but the community pledges to pedal on.

Over the past week, the six main benefitting agencies of the ride, Broward House, Compass, Pridelines, Miracle of Love, AH Monroe, and Empath Epic Health, have begun collaborating to continue the ride.

As OutSFL first reported, The SMART Ride decided to make next month’s ride the last after Executive Director Todd Delmay left after nine months. Founder Glen Weinzimer has been looking for someone to take over the event and develop a new generation of riders, crew, and volunteers. Delmay believed he could do both jobs, but the board decided to end the ride.

But the organizations that benefit aren’t going quietly. Broward House announced the nascent effort, saying, “We believe in the legacy and will discover a new inspiration. We are working alongside the current SMART Ride benefiting agencies to keep the magic alive in a reimagined way.”

A source inside the discussions told OutSFL, “Planning is going on to continue the SMART Ride in 2024. What does that look like? I’m not sure.”

SMART Ride, an annual 165-mile bike ride from Miami to Key West, is the largest in America that gives 100% of proceeds raised back to the community. The organization itself lines up sponsors to cover event costs. Reinvigorating the ride, or any substantial replacement, will mean that the new organizers will take on that responsibility as well.

Nearly $15M has been raised over the first nineteen rides, and the goal for this year is $2M. If reached, it would give the benefitting agencies time to figure out how to replace the funding.

Mixed Messages

In addition to saying they are working with ride organizers to “keep the ride alive,” Broward House quotes Weinzimer as saying, "One of the pillars of the ride is the commitment and camaraderie of the benefiting agencies. They hold the pieces to create a unified success."

But that quote falls short of an endorsement for a new ride. Indeed, since announcing the end of the ride, Weinzimer and others have said there were ways to continue the event, but they didn’t want it to be a watered down version of the legacy collaboration.

However, Weinzimer has also said the world has changed since the first ride, and that the benefitting agencies have the community awareness and skills to fundraise outside the SMART Ride umbrella. Each agency is an active participant in the ride.

Weinzimer refused comment for this story.

Our source says the funding must be made up somehow.

“[Six] organizations were major beneficiaries year in, year out. Those dollars support the operating budgets that benefit from SMART Ride.”

He believes the best rides are still yet to come.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of the planning, and making it just as great if not better than this year’s ride.”

Whatever happens in 2024, the community is focused on making the most of 2023.

“The Ride brought us together not only for vital fundraising but bonded HIV-centric organizations in a commitment to creating healing and unity. We will enjoy and breathe in every inspiration of this year.”


SMART Ride Ends; Our Continuing Coverage


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