Dallas Voice publisher recounts events that led him, at age 53, to start training for the annual fundraising bike-a-thon and recruit a team
LSR KICKOFF PARTY
The Kickoff Party for the 2009 Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS is May 31, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., at Salum, 4152 Cole Ave., Suite 103.
This year’s ride, benefiting AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County, AIDS Services of Dallas and Resource Center Dallas, is Sept. 26-27, beginning and ending each day at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center near DFW Airport.
To register as a rider or crew member and for complete Lone Star Ride information visit LoneStarRide.org.
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of "The Lone Star Ride Journal," which will be a weekly feature, written by riders and crew members participating with Team Dallas Voice, through Sept. 25, the day before the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS is held. Watch for future installments each Friday on Page 4 of Dallas Voice.
AIDS was with us in May 1984 when two business partners and I published our first edition of Dallas Voice, but you will find scant mention of it in those first pages.
There are just two editorial references, and both are buried in stories on election results.
In the directory, the Oak Lawn Counseling Center is the single listing for AIDS information and support.
No one on staff realized that AIDS would become the story to dominate our professional and personal lives. The story would evolve, but it would not go away.
Twenty-five years later, we still live with it. In fact the rate of HIV infection in Dallas County is surging again.
In my discussions with staff on how to mark our 25 years, I repeated many times that whatever we did, I did not want it to be frivolous.
On our 20th anniversary we did the big party with hundreds of people. Cocktails. Great food. An ice sculpture.
It was fabulous. I had a great time and had the opportunity to thank so many of the people that have supported us for so long.
Today that approach seems out of place.
When every cause I care about and support is under great pressure to raise money and maintain their efforts, I want to mark this occasion in a more meaningful and lasting way.
Since that first edition, Dallas Voice has lost eight staff members to AIDS. One was Don Ritz, one of those three original partners, who served as the paper’s first editor and then controller. He lost his battle Feb. 3, 2001.
As the story evolved and North Texas AIDS deaths mounted, local community organizations adapted or were created outright to respond. One of those efforts was the first Texas AIDS Ride.
Dallas Voice put together a team and Don signed up to ride.
He bought a bike, developed a training regimen and called on friends and family to sponsor him.
But his health failed and ultimately he spent the days he had planned to bike the Texas highways in a hospital bed. That was 1998.
I can think of no better way to mark the 25 years of Dallas Voice and its mission to serve the LGBT community than to finish Don’s ride.
Dallas Voice is once again recruiting a bike ride team.
We’re gearing up to pedal in support of Lone Star Ride, Sept. 26-27, and its three beneficiaries — Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Services of Dallas and AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County.
Ten years ago, being a rider would have been easier. I’m 53 now.
But I bought a new bike and I’m out training on the great biking trails this city has.
The staff will tell you, I’m "all in."
The memories of Don and all the people I’ve lost are fresh again, but this time in a joyful way for having known them. They are people I built my life around.
Today, I see them cheering me on mile after mile. They are as vigorous as I feel when I’m riding and taking in the world — the late spring flowers, the geese on the lakeshore, the couples holding hands on an abandoned pier.
They and I are alive together on that bike.
Come live. Come ride with your friends. Come ride with Team Dallas Voice.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 22, 2009.