Inside the Decision to End The SMART Ride

Photo via SMART Ride, Facebook.

And just like that, the future of The SMART Ride (SR) vanished. OutSFL broke the news on social media that the ride is coming to an end. As the news quickly spread, people close to the organization and those who barely know about it were all asking: “Why?”

The news came after Executive Director Todd Delmay announced he is becoming the executive director at SAVE. SR is a year-round effort, and ultimately the board decided it is better to end the event now, after its 20th ride this November, than to have it proceed in a lesser form.

SR board president, Marie Hayes, said the board wrestled with the decision for weeks.

“There were other options. Nothing felt right.”

Hayes says she’s the one that brought the once unthinkable idea to SR founder Glen Weinzimer.

“I was the first one to say to Glen, do we end this?”

Weinzimer says ending after 20 rides may have been the right decision all along, telling OutSFL Delmay’s development gave him a chance to reconsider something he had previously mulled.

“You give a lot of thought to if you can keep this going,” he said.

CAN is in the early part of a six-year deal for CAN to be the Ride’s presenting sponsor. CAN’S chief communications officer, Roger Capote, said the end of SR is the end of an amazing chapter of HIV/AIDS activism.

"We are honored to be a part of such an incredible and impactful event that has changed the course of so many organizations and helped so many individuals in our local communities.”

What Changed?

The weekend’s developments are a complete about-face from what Weinzimer and Delmay were saying as recently as January. The new partnership was designed to transition to a new generation of SMART Riders. Both were excited.

“We didn’t find him. He found us,” Weinzimer said at the time.

Delmay was clear about his goals, saying, “The sustainability of the organization is one of the most critical things. Thinking about longevity, we’re now moving from a founder to a new person. For any organization to be successful long term, they have to be able to make those transitions.”

Between those comments in January and this summer, something changed. What exactly started this chain of events? No one’s saying.

Delmay said this week that the event wasn’t the only thing getting older, so were the participants. It takes riders, crew, volunteers, and organizers from here to Key West to make the event happen. He says there just aren’t enough new faces, and lots of longtime participants are getting long in the tooth.

“People aging out has been a problem for years.”

But this decision also reflects a change in mindset for Delmay. He plans to run for office again someday (he lost a primary bid for a seat in the state house last year), and in January, he said working at SMART Ride would be an extension of running for office.

“I can’t take a 9 to 5 office job. I’d never be able to run for office again and this is a really great fit. It allows me to be in the community and feels like a natural fit.”

This week he said SR was never meant to be a full-time job, and that SAVE, a political organization, is a great fit.

Weinzimer was equally optimistic in January, saying, “[Delmay’s] not doing it because he needs a job. He wants something he knows he can believe at the end of the day he made a difference.”

Despite the reversal of plans, Weinzimer supports Delmay.

“It didn’t turn out and he has another opportunity. We need someone who has the time to focus on the SMART Ride. We see this as the right place for him to be.”

Still, it’s a far different story from January, when Weinzimer recalled talking with Delmay about the job.

“I asked him if he’s sorry he agreed to this. He gives me this big smile and hugs me and says, ‘I love this.’”


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