“We’re concerned.” Those are the words of Scott Pridgen, the executive director of AH Monroe, while contemplating the end of the SMART Ride. The group serves the Keys’ LGBTQ community, and received $195,341 from the most recent ride.
The organization has been a benefitting agency of The Ride since its inception and will take part in the 20th, and final, ride in November.
“It’s mixed emotions. We are disappointed. I understand the decision,” Pridgen said. “It’s been a good run. Like everything, it needs to be passed on or evolve.”
OutSFL broke the news on social media. Since then, all six benefitting agencies, of which AH Monroe is one, have looked at how they’ll make up the funding.
“There is hope we will reinvent it for 2024. The agencies have become very connected. The six of us will come together and figure it out. What it is? I don’t know yet.”
SMART Ride Founder Glen Weinzimer says the organizations have learned to fundraise on their own over the years, and no longer need to operate under the SMART Ride umbrella. Pridgen believes that is possible, but will take work.
“We have to get creative and look at other revenue sources. It will be tough.”
They have one of, if not the most prolific SMART Ride teams on their side. The Key West Mile Markers have, to this point, raised the most money this year. They also have the top individual fundraiser. The organization has vowed to press on, and recently filed articles of incorporation, so they can keep going.
“We have an excellent fundraising machine in the KWMMs.”
The SMART Ride is an annual, 165-mile bike ride from Miami to Key West, and gives back all money raised to the community. They’ve raised nearly $15M over the first 19 rides, and have a goal of raising two million for the final ride.
Pridgen says though sources of funding may change, the mission remains the same.
“We do have hope to continue forward to eradicate the disease. We do not have a cure yet so we are on the frontline of new HIV diagnosis every day.”