by Fernando Quintero
For David Duncan, a senior planner at Planning, Design and Construction, the 525-mile route of the California AIDS Ride will be a special challenge.
Duncan is HIV positive.
On June 1, he will join more than 30 other Berkeley staff, faculty and students as they pedal for dollars in this year's fourth annual state AIDS ride. Together, they hope to raise more than $100,000 in the event.
To prepare himself for the ride that begins in San Francisco and ends in Los Angeles, Duncan is steadily building up his stamina and has been put on a special diet.
"I saw (the AIDS Ride) as an opportunity to challenge myself physically," said Duncan, 44.
"Of course, I hope to challenge my ability to raise money as well," he added.
Last year, Duncan volunteered to help register riders and was moved by the diversity of people who showed up for the event.
"There were mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers out with their kids and grandchildren," Duncan said. "When you see so many people from so many different walks of life committed to the same goal, it really makes a lasting impression."
Last year's ride, involving some 2,275 riders in five different routes across the United States, raised more than $8.2 million for AIDS services. The local beneficiary in the California AIDS Ride is the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Michael Lucey, associate professor of French and comparative literature who also teaches courses in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies minor program, was also inspired by the noble efforts of previous AIDS Ride participants. Now that he is on sabbatical, he is able to join in.
Lucey said with this year marking the 10th anniversary of the AIDS activist group ACT UP!, public awareness about the disease and its devastating effects must be heightened„especially among college-age men and women. AIDS is the leading cause of death among individuals ages 25 to 44.
"People I know and love have died and are dying from AIDS," said Lucey, 36. "In addition to raising money for a worthy cause, what I am hoping to get out of this personally is the opportunity to use this ride as a way to express the variety of emotions AIDS has brought to my life and share with others who have gone through the same thing."
Anne Nishimoto, a sophomore who will also participate in her first AIDS Ride, said she decided to ride after being approached about the event one day in Sproul Plaza.
"I like to challenge myself, and it seemed like a really worthwhile thing to do," Nishimoto said.
A few years ago, after seeing, "Philadelphia," a film starring Tom Hanks about an attorney who contracts AIDS, Nishimoto said she volunteered with a local AIDS service organization.
"I don't want to sit idly by. I want to be part of the solution," Nishimoto said. "It might sound idealistic, but I believe I can make a difference. And I believe I'm not alone."
For more information on the California AIDS Ride, or to make a pledge, contact David Duncan at 643-5813, Michael Lucey at 642-0277, Anne Nishimoto at 204-9464, or Chris Murchison, Cal Team AIDS Ride coordinator, at 642-2711.