The SMART Ride, the venerable fundraiser that’s collected nearly $15M over 19 years, is coming to an end. OutSFL broke the news on social media Sept. 16, and Founder Glen Weinzimer and Executive Director Todd Delmay confirmed the news in a press release a short time later.
The 20th and final 165-mile ride from Miami to Key West will be Nov. 17-18. The SMART Ride, which stands for Southern Most HIV/AIDS Ride, is the only one of its kind in the nation that returns 100% of donations back to the community. Six HIV/AIDS groups throughout Florida were beneficiaries of last year’s ride, which raised more than one million dollars.
Long before the decision was made to shutter the organization, the ride set a goal of two million dollars for the 20th trip.
Delmay was named Executive Director in January, and Weinzimer wanted to use this year to make a smooth transition. The situation changed when Delmay accepted the job as Executive Director at SAVE LGBTQ. SAVE works to advance LGBTQ issues and endorse candidates.
Delmay ran for a state house seat last year as a Democrat, and lost in the primary. He has said he plans to run for office again.
Sources close to the situation at SMART Ride say the board began grappling with the future about three weeks ago. Some say there was a discussion about SAVE absorbing the Ride, but that was deemed unworkable given the time involved and the apolitical nature of SMART Ride.
“I’m very much at peace with this decision,” Weinzimer told Happening Out Television the day after the announcement. “It’s taken a lot of my personal life. You reach a point where you can’t survive just doing this.”
He has long talked about this year being his last, and with Delmay leaving for SAVE, the decision was made to end the event.
OutSFL has much more on this story, including its impact on Florida’s HIV/AIDS community and the people who have made the Ride a true, year round, community building effort.