Glen Weinzimer has organized 19 trips from Miami to Key West, a 165-mile bike ride to raise money for HIV/AIDS service organizations. Now, he’s preparing for the 20th and final ride, which runs from Nov. 17-18.
Over the years, thousands of riders, crew, and volunteers have raised nearly $15M and formed bonds that will last long after the last tire is changed, and water bottle is emptied.
For now, the final training rides are underway, team members are getting their jerseys, and a last minute fundraising push to raise a record-breaking $2M in the final year.
Compass is The Ride’s Palm Beach County beneficiary. CEO Julie Seaver says it’s crunch time, but they’re ready.
“This past weekend, I was on a training ride from Lake Worth's Bryant Park to the Palm Beach Inlet. The weather was beautiful and it was so great to see the many SMART Riders and other teams were out there, getting their last training miles in going north and south.”
The Key West Mile Markers is one of, if not the most prolific team in The Ride’s history. They have raised $1.2M since 2017, often bringing in more than $200,000 a year. They hold fundraisers ranging from Real Men Do Drag to tequila tastings, to bingo parties to vibrator races.
Just weeks ago, team leader Donald Gene Dotzauer was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. His team didn’t bat an eye.
“With just three weeks remaining before the Ride, I was diagnosed as having congestive heart failure due to a congenital bicuspid valve,” he said. “Team leaders never missed a beat, stepped up and have brought us to today. We are on a certain path to cross the $200,000 fundraising threshold for the third time.”
The SMART Ride prides itself on being the largest HIV/AIDS ride that returns 100% of money raised back to the community. What happens after this year is still up in the air. Benefitting agencies are working amongst themselves to figure it out.
But that’s all for another day. For now, they are focused on this weekend’s ride.
"In the business of preparations this week, we are not in the mindset of ‘This is the last Ride,’ Seaver said. “But rather, ‘How can we make this ride the best ride yet?’ The answers are always the same for every SMART Ride: Ask for help when needed, be kind to others, and stay hydrated.”
The work is year round, and the community support is what makes it all possible.
“Please come give us a warm send-off at LaTeDa Tea Dance this Sunday,” Dotzauer implored on social media. “Hugs are free, and we will have some awesome Silent Auction Items!”
For Seaver, the love she and Team Compass feel is what drives them to go the extra mile. Or, rather, the 165th mile.
“When you're pedaling against 20 mph headwinds, the cheers of encouragement coming from across A1A help give you the strength to keep pedaling: ‘Hey Julie!’ ‘Hey Team Bill Bone!’ and ‘SMART RIDE 2023!’ See you soon!"