Lone Star Ride kicks off new season

LSR team Slow Spokes (more photos from Sunday's party below)

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS kicked off the new season with a party at the new Irving Convention Center. LSR event manager Jerry Calumn announced new sponsors and fundraising tools, and handed out copies of the new route.

The two-day, 175-mile ride takes place the last weekend in September and benefits Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Services Dallas and AIDS Outreach Center.

The first day of this year’s ride begins in Irving and makes a 100-mile loop through Dallas. The second day, the ride heads through Arlington and Fort Worth.

A new corporate sponsor is Microsoft.

“Microsoft is invested in the community and diversity and helping people realize their full potential,” said Jeri Johnson, leader of Microsoft’s citizenship and public affairs outreach in the DFW area.

The LSR will ride out from Microsoft’s Irving campus.

“This is the first time we’ve hosted anything on this site,” she said. “We want to make a difference.”

Microsoft’s sponsorship will have an impact on the ride. She said the company is fielding a team of 50 riders. For the past few years, Dallas Voice has fielded the largest team, but Microsoft could present a challenge.

In addition to what those riders will raise, the company donates $17 an hour for volunteer time. As the team’s riders and additional volunteers participate, the contribution from the company will grow.

—  David Taffet

Facing the challenge with excitement, energy

Jerry Calumn

New event manager Jerry Calumn wants to get the Lone Star Ride even more fiscally fit than before

M. M. ADJARIAN | Contributing Writer

Change is the only constant; no one knows this better than Jerry Calumn, the former marketing consultant/standup comedian who in March replaced Dave Minehart as event manager for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

Articulate and sizzlingly energetic, Calumn is a man with a plan. He has to be.

The economic downturn hit nonprofits like the LSR especially hard. While the worst of the financial crisis seems to be over, it can take up to two years after a recession has ended before nonprofit organizations are able to come out of their own “parallel recessions.”

“[Once surviving] nonprofits have the resources to get their donations back, the competition for [things like] dollars and volunteers gets hefty,” Calumn observes.

For AIDS nonprofits in particular, however, the pressures are even greater, as costs for the new medical options that will become available to HIV/AIDS patients in the next 5 to 10 years are expected to skyrocket. And those are the kind of costs that Lone Star Ride’s beneficiary organizations will have to cover.

“The new treatments will be great, but they will be expensive,” says Calumn. “In the next [decade] of this epidemic, we are going to face very serious challenges with regard to the amount of money we are going to have to raise” to help the ride’s beneficiary organizations continue to cover the costs.

If Lone Star Ride repeats its 2010 fundraising efforts and brings in $150,ooo this year, that will put the event’s total for its 11-year history over $2 million.

Calumn’s strategy to increase the fiscal fitness of the ride by working the LSR core is similar to one cyclists might use to train their bodies for the actual ride itself.

He’s also actively listening to what his riders have to say about what they want to do and how they want to go about doing it.

“We’re putting a lot more tools in the [cyclists’] hands,” he says. “We’re [also] training them better on how to fundraise. And we’re connecting them to more rider-centered events throughout the season.”

One example of the way Calumn is opening up and “toning” the LSR is through the inclusion of a “ Map Your Dream Ride” meeting. On May 24, cyclists gathered together to discuss possible routes for this year’s ride. The final map layout will be announced in July.

The recession and increased costs for HIV treatment or not the only hurdles the LSR faces as an organization. Calumn, who moved to Dallas from New York, saw 50 percent of Jewish charities there and in New Jersey (and 30 percent nationally) close in the wake of the 2008 Madoff scandal.

This in turn has given rise to drastically increased investor/donor suspicion regarding who’s handling their money and how. Sensitive to these new realities, Calumn is also working to make the LSR a more transparent nonprofit.

“[That scandal] has really ingrained in people’s heads to look more closely at organization’s finances,” he says. “We don’t ask enough tough questions on the program side of our nonprofits, especially in the gay, lesbian and HIV community.”

As a conscious agent of change and man who has lived — and thrived — with HIV for the last 17 years, Calumn has his work cut out for him. Yet he relishes what’s ahead and embraces his work with inspired fervor.

He even plans to be out on the road himself, joyfully adding his own blood, sweat and tears into the mix.

His excitement is as electric as it is palpable. Declares Calumn, “I told the board and my management team as soon as I landed [in Dallas last spring], ‘I am riding!’”

And over the starting line he goes, a winner before the race has even begun.

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.

—  John Wright