Cycling for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS ultimately means giving people with HIV and AIDS a chance at a better quality of life. But as Dallas IT professional James Cannata can attest, saddling up on behalf of others can also offer unexpected lessons in faith and self-confidence.
Cannata had known about the LSR for a number of years prior to his official entry into it this year. But overweight as he was, Cannata never thought he could become an event participant, let alone an LSR cyclist.
“When I got my bike last year, it was the first one I’d owned since I was a teenager,” a somewhat embarrassed Cannata admits. And his first efforts at a return to cycling were frankly halfhearted.
He estimates that in 2010, he rode no more than six or seven miles; and the bicycle that was to have awakened his inner athlete became little more than a two-wheeled dust-collector.
Despite the anemic mileage totals, the 41-year-old Cannata was able to follow through on a health and fitness program he’d also begun at about the same time. When he finally took the Ride plunge at the LSR kickoff party last May, he had lost 30 pounds and kicked a 25-year-plus smoking habit.
Says the IT tech,“ I thought to myself, ‘I’m in a little better shape now.’ I had come a long way in the last year-and-a-half, so I decided I could [finally] do the Ride and help out other people.”
But then Cannata had an attack of nerves. In his mind, he was a cycling newbie whose sole experience with fundraising had consisted of selling candy for his Cub Scout troop. Who was he to be doing the LSR?
“I called [event manager] Jerry [Calumn] and told him there was no way I would be able to raise my goal of $1,200,” Cannata recalls. “Besides which, we were going to be riding on real streets on our bikes, with real traffic going by. And these were real miles in real weather.”
Cannata was ready to give the $200 he had already raised back to his sponsors. Calumn, who saw more in Cannata than he could see in himself, immediately got the flustered IT tech in touch with another, more experienced rider who took him on a test ride.
“And I just absolutely loved it,” Cannata beams. “I was kind of stunned that I had done 10 or 12 miles; it was just amazing for me. I couldn’t believe I’d done that, you know?”
Since then, Cannata has worked up to doing 30 miles per ride. Now he fully expects to achieve his goal of doing 90 miles during the two days the Ride will take place.
The encouragement he received from other LSR members helped Cannata believe in himself and carry on towards his goal. And as Cannata has moved along his path, he’s seen still other positives emerge.
“When I look at the people who have donated to this ride,” he says, “it’s amazing to see the level of support, especially [among] my heterosexual allies who are very close friends. They have donated quite a bit of money. It’s just so amazing that these people are proud of me for doing this.”
The upcoming Ride will be a challenge for Cannata, but one he’s now ready to embrace with open arms. After all, all the hurdles he has — or has yet — to overcome, are nothing compared to those facing the people for whom he is riding.
“There are just some people who don’t have the financial means to take care of their basic day-to-day needs,” says Cannata. “But I’m going to know that I took part in changing someone’s life [by] putting food on someone’s table for a couple of months. Or getting someone medicine [or] emotional support.”
Radiant with newfound self-belief, he adds, “Whatever effort, whatever pain I [go] through [will be] so worth it.”
Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS takes place Sept. 24-25. For details or to donate to a specific rider or team or to the ride in general, go online to LoneStarRide.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2011.
Contacted as she was driving halfway across the country to her new home last week, Bruce told Instant Tea she fell in love with San Diego during a recent visit.
“I was there two days, and it was the first place since I moved to Dallas 20 years ago where I was like, I would leave Dallas for this,” she said. “Life’s always a transition.”
Bruce said she’ll miss Dallas and while people here were generally tolerant of her gender identity, in San Diego she’s found love and acceptance. She said both the transgender and fitness communities are bigger there, which bodes well for her business, Discover Health and Fitness.
“Everybody there, they love the uniqueness and the difference of me. In Dallas, there were a few people,” Bruce said. “[Dallas is] a great place, but if you’re a little different, they tolerate you — I never had any major issues — but they don’t really seem to embrace you.”
The art of living well: Stacy hails from south of San Antonio, and now she’s now in her third year teaching elementary school art in the Metroplex. Her crazy-cool, unconventional teaching style has inspired an art curriculum book for teachers on how to teach art history to kids.
Next to teaching, health and fitness are her passions. Stacy works out at least six times a week, hitting up workouts such as turbo kickboxing and P90x. She’s also a beach-body coach who schools people in reaching their fitness goals.
Getting better all the time: Traveling is a big priority in her life, and Stacy plans each of her summer breaks to find herself in an interesting locale; her fave city so far has been San Francisco. Her love of new experiences and random adventure has her exploring cities and small towns all over the country. With journal, sketchbook and camera in hand, she sets out to capture the beauty around her.
When she’s not feeling the burn or taking a fantastic trip to a new location, Stacy enjoys watching movies, painting, sculpting, dancing, playing guitar and cooking. She says her life is lovely, and getting better with each day!
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.
My name is Tara Dannehl, and I am very proud to be apart of the 10-year anniversary Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS!
Life for me revolves around health and fitness. So when I was asked to participate in this year’s ride, there was no reason in my mind to say no.
My friend and SPIN professional, Arlen Miller, is the man that got me on a road bike. I know Arlen from The Texas Club located indowntown Dallas, where I am a personal trainer and group fitness instructor.
I have been working as a trainer and instructor for seven years. I get fulfillment in aiding and watching the changes people make in their lives for the better.
Many of my clients have come to me for assistance in reaching personal goals of completing a half or full marathon, a triathlon and other distance events of running or biking. I’ve also had some friends starting running for the first time in their lives to raise money for charities dear to them.
And finally, it is my time. I decided that if all these individuals of different ages and abilities can achieve such incredible goals that I needed to make one for myself.
I’ve always enjoyed bike riding and the outdoors. I have spent my time on a hybrid mountain bike, so at the beginning, I didn’t really think there would be much difference in a road bike — wrong! I’ll share that experience with all of you hardcore road bikers in just a second.
Next, I am going to brag about the wonderful bike loaner program.
I was so eager for the ride and this new experience, but I didn’t have a road bike. So Arlen put me in touch with David Minehart and the Loan Star Locker.
And I was set! I now have a wonderful, royal blue Marin to put my miles on.
I took it to the shop and after a little touch up and some new clip shoes, I was almost ready to begin putting miles on the odometer.
While the bike was in the shop, I took my clips and began regularly attending a spin class at the gym. I also would hop on the spin bike in my spare time. I wanted to get comfortable with the clips and felt this would be good practice.
Once I picked up my bike, I must admit that it spent a few days in the garage as I dealt with some small anxiety about this new experience, clips and all, that was looming in the back of my mind.
Then one beautiful Saturday morning, my husband and I finally geared up and headed out. Wow! It was such a completely different experience than what I was used to from a mountain bike!
That first ride was great. What made it even better was that I hit the one stop light between our house and the lake while it was green, both ways, and didn’t have to unclip.
Yes, I told you I was anxious!
But not to worry fellow LSR bikers, as I have been practicing with my clips. I will be a pleasant and respectful rider with you on this amazing 150 mile ride.
Yes, 150 miles — I can’t wait!
The icing on the cake for me is that this experience is an opportunity to raise money for organizations fighting AIDS and supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Lone Star Organization reaches out to so many and continuous support is needed to make significant progress in research and education. It is an incentive to be backed by family, friends and acquaintances to raise money for an organization such as this one.
I am ready to hit the road and be apart of the 10-year anniversary ride this September. It is going to be an experience of a lifetime, and it will be so wonderful to share it with so many other supportive riders and crew.
Thank you to the organization and those that have gotten me this far. I especially appreciate my husband for going on practice rides with me and my parents for believing in me.
See you on the road! Go LSR 2010!
Tara Dannehl is a member of Team Dallas Voice. Donate to her by going online to LoneStarRide.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.