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

LSRFA distributes funds

Co-chairs and agency representatives at LSRFA wrap party

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS distributed proceeds from the 2011 bike ride on Sunday, Oct. 23 at a party held on the rooftop of the Wyly Theatre in the Arts District.

Three agencies — Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Services Dallas and AIDS Outreach Center — split the $125,000 proceeds. About half the riders and crew were on hand for the check distribution.

Riders and crew also signed up for the 2012 ride that takes place on Sept. 23-24.

John Tripp finished his second year as event co-chair. Danny Simpson will be senior co-chair for 2012 and David Hodge begins a two-year term as co-chair. More pics from the wrap party available here.

—  David Taffet

Lone Star Ride 2011 Closing Ceremonies

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—  John Wright

Lone Star Ride Closing Ceremonies on Sept. 25

Photos by Eric Dickson/Dallas Voice (Arcus Media)

 

—  John Wright

Why do we ride? I was reminded during Pride

The Lone Star Ride’s Riderless Bike makes its way down Cedar Springs Road during the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sunday. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

I participated in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade for the first time in many years, riding my bike with the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS group. Along the route, a young man reminded me why we’ll ride this coming weekend.

As we proceeded down Cedar Springs Road, the bike riders made circles and loops because it was too hard to stay on a bike behind the walkers and the Riderless Bike that is walked in memory of those we have lost to AIDS. Along the sidelines, parade-goers held out their hands to give us victory slaps. Keeping balance, riding a straight line, avoiding police officers in the street and hitting as many hands as possible took some coordination — something I’m not known for on a bike.

Along the way, many bystanders shouted a thank you for our fundraising and for raising awareness. Along the route, three announcers explained what LSR is. Cheers followed. Those cheers and thank yous felt good. People know about Lone Star Ride and support its efforts and helped pump each of us up for this weekend’s event.

I never needed much encouragement to participate in LSR. I’ve always ridden for my many friends who died of AIDS and I ride each year to remember my partner Jon who died in 1990, more than 20 years ago.

—  David Taffet

BUSINESS: New app offers safety in numbers

RIDE SAFE | Cyclists in the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS each year peddle through some pretty isolated stretches of road. This year, MobileTREC is equipping each rider with the SafeTREC application and service to give them an added layer of security on the road. MobileTREC is also donating $1 from every SafeTREC subscription to Lone Star Ride. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

SafeTREC service now partnering with Lone Star Ride; adds a layer of security to life, company officials say

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

We all know what happens when you find yourself in an emergency situation at your home, and you pick up your landline to call 9-11 for help: The 9-11 operators can use their system to determine your exact location and send help, even if you aren’t able to tell them where you are.

But what happens if you, like many people these days, use your cell phone as your home phone instead of having a landline? What happens if you are in your car, or perhaps walking or cycling?

Those locations can’t be wired into the 9-11 system, and the best emergency operators can do is triangulate your location to within a three-, six- or nine-mile radius, depending on the circumstances. And when minutes count, that might not be good enough.

That’s the problem that the people at MobileTREC were trying to solve when they came up with their SafeTREC and SafeKidZone applications for smart phones, according to Martin Lobe, MobileTREC’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Users download the MobileTREC app they want to their smart phone and then pay a $9.95 per month subscription fee to use the service. Lobe said the company is also working to finalize a family plan for $19.95 a month that he hopes will be available within the next month.

To use the service, he explained, users designate a specific button on their phone as the “panic button,” and in case of emergency, they push that button and the MobileTREC operators contact the appropriate responders. And the MobileTREC apps marry with the phone’s GPS signal to send responders to the user’s exact location, Lobe said.

Lobe said the applications and MobileTREC’s subscription services can give users an added layer of security and some options that you don’t get with 9-11.

With the SafeKidZone app, children can punch the panic button and that activates a whole community of responders — friends and family as well as police and fire — to come to their aid.

Lobe explained that users establish a network of contacts among family and friends, and if a child needs help, the SafeKidZone program sends an immediate text and email to the established “safety network” as well as to the company’s 24-hour Response Call Center. Then the child, the “safety network” members and the Call Center are linked through a live conference call.

That lets everyone know what the child’s situation is, allowing the closest family member or friend to respond immediately or if necessary, the Call Center personnel will notify 9-11 to send police or fire, giving them the child’s exact location.

SafeTREC is the same sort of application and service, only geared for adults, such as college students, senior citizens, business travelers or those on vacation.

“Think about someone, an adult, who may have some sort of disability or illness, and they fall in their home and can’t get up. They don’t need medical attention, but if 9-11 sends an ambulance, they have to pay for that. With SafeTREC, they push the panic button and the system sends someone in their safety network over to help them up,” Lobe said.

“I have gay friends, and when I started looking into it, doing some research, I realized just how often gay bashings are happening, and how sometimes gay people are not getting the proper protection from police in some instances. And I knew that our service is something that could be very, very helpful to gay people,” Lobe said. “We want to let the LGBT community know that this is available, that they are not alone.”

The service is also perfect, Lobe said, for sports enthusiasts — like cyclists or runners — who might find themselves out on the road and suddenly in need of help. And that, he added, makes a partnership between MobileTREC and Lone Star Ride Fightings AIDS a perfect match.

MobileTREC CEO Don Ferguson explained that his company will be equipping every Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS rider with the SafeTREC service, and will also donate $1 from every subscription to LSRFA.

The two-day Lone Star Ride, scheduled this year for Sept. 24-25, raises money for three AIDS service organizations — AIDS Services of Dallas, AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County and Resource Center Dallas.

“I can see the Lone Star Ride is a worthwhile event where people are getting together to help others, and I am excited for SafeTREC to become a part of it,” Ferguson said.

And helping people help each other, he added, is one of the goals of the company.

“Our system is designed not only to protect people when they are in danger but also to build a safety network so people are automatically looking out for each other,” Ferguson said. “Man is not an island. We survive better together, and that is what we are doing at SafeTREC. We are creating a community of people looking out for each other.”

For more information, go online to MobileTREC.com

—  John Wright

LSR Journal: Marine trains to fight HIV apathy

M.M. ADJARIAN | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Many riders find themselves becoming gradually more involved with the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS over time. But if you’re on achievement overdrive like freshman cyclist James Esh, you’re going full force right out of the starting gate.

The ex-Marine-turned-lawyer first learned about the Ride in 2010, three years after he moved to Dallas from Arkansas. His interest was sparked by the complacency he’d seen around him regarding the AIDS crisis.

“I was really young when I heard the term ‘gay cancer,’” recalls Esh. “In the early ’90s, Ryan White brought it back to the everyday American. But [when I started college in 2000] and the subject came up in the courses I was taking, it just wasn’t a big deal to most people.”

The nonchalance he’s witnessed came about because medical advances made the disease easier to control. But those same advances have sometimes come at the cost of sweeping HIV/AIDS under the rug and out of sight.

Ever the vigilant military man looking to set a positive example, Esh decided to take arms against apathy, ignorance and silence by saddling up for the LSR.

And like a good soldier, he went on a reconnaissance mission to learn about the event and its sponsoring organization. The data he gathered met with his wholehearted approval.

“All the money from the LSR is [earmarked for] local agencies,” says the ex-Marine. “So the bang for your buck is a lot higher because all the money goes back to the community.”

The organization impressed him so much that he volunteered to become an LSR board member.

Explains Esh, “Participating on the board was not a decision I made in the beginning. It was made after I had already decided to ride. So when the opportunity presented itself, it just kind of worked out.”

The freshman cyclist expects to pedal 150 miles in this year’s Ride. His goal is an especially lofty one given that he admits that a busy work schedule has not allowed him to train as regularly as he would like.

“I started [preparing] in February but fell off the bandwagon for a few months,” he says. “Then I had about two weeks where my bike was in the shop. I’ve been hitting it hard this past month, though, and will continue to do so because the LSR is less than 60 days away.”

Esh also admits to not having cycled with the Texas sun full on his back. The toughness he cultivated during his time in the military will serve him well, especially if the current record-breaking heat wave continues into September.

“It was 104 degrees the other day when I went [cycling] around White Rock Lake,” he says. “I was a little crazy for doing it [but] I did grow up in the West Texas Panhandle so I’m not too unaccustomed [to the heat].”

As much as Esh has reintegrated into civilian life, it’s clear that he’s still a Marine at heart: semper fidelis (always faithful) to a cause regardless of the challenges he encounters along the way.

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

LSR Journal: Partners in pedaling, partners in life

Michael Smith and Benjamin Mussler

Longtime partners Smith and Mussler say training together for LSR has strengthened their bodies and their relationship

M.M. ADJARIAN  |  Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Michael Smith and Benjamin Mussler are just entering their 30s, in peak physical condition and with bright futures ahead of them. They have it all: youth, health and success.

But these two Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS cyclists also have something else to envy, and that’s a loving, longtime relationship with each other.

The men joined LSR as a couple in 2007, starting out as pit crew members. On the first day, both were part of a Bachelor-themed pit stop.

“There was one ‘bachelor,’ and everybody was fighting over him,” Smith, a Dallas-based Farmers Insurance agent, says of the pit stop theme.

The second day, the pair got to live out their fantasy of going back to school at the Hogwarts Academy, the school for young witches and wizards from the “Harry Potter” books and movies.

Those manning the pit stop all donned their witch and wizard robes and grabbed their wands to help keep the cyclists hydrated.

The two men say they enjoyed every minute of their time “in the pit,” refilling water bottles and  cheering cyclists onward. But as they tended to the sweat-drenched riders, Smith and

Mussler say they felt the road — and ultimately, LSR — calling to them to make a deeper commitment.

“We saw what a great cause it was and wanted to help out more,” says Mussler, a marketing manager for Sabre Holdings. And so, they registered to ride.

But to be able to experience the event on two wheels rather than two legs meant training — and lots of it. Both have dedicated many hours every weekend to preparing for the event, on their own and through LSR-sponsored training sessions.

But neither of the two has any complaints about the loss of free time. If anything, they say, becoming cyclists for the ride has actually drawn them closer together.

“It’s something that we can do together that’s healthy for us; it’s definitely exercise!” remarks Mussler. “[Cycling for the LSR] is also just something that challenges us to keep up with each other.”

The two men’s commitment to the event mirrors the even deeper one they have to each other. They are family, and proud to share that fact with their community. Smith and Mussler are even more proud that their efforts on behalf of LSR have brought their nearest and dearest into the larger “Ride family.”

Says Smith, “ Last year, my mom became part of the medical crew. This year, 10 of our friends — including my mom — are part of the event.”

Born as they were in the early 1980s, Smith and Mussler did not experience firsthand the devastation that the early days of AIDS caused in the gay community. But they are still keenly aware that they are part of the first generation to benefit from those who struggled through the epidemic and who fought for the greater social freedoms both now enjoy.

“I feel like the gay and lesbian people that came before me paved the way to making our lives a little easier,” Mussler says. “I don’t want to paint HIV/AIDS as something that only affects LGBT people because it definitely [affects others, too]. But I do feel like [I am] giving back to the community, and I take pride in who I am. It’s a real motivating factor that I can do this with my partner through the Ride.”

Smiling his assent Smith adds, “It’s important for the community to have positive role models of people [like us] who do things together.”

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

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS Casino Party tonight

Expect a full house

Lone Star Ride hosts their fourth annual casino night which is so much more than a poker felt on a table. Craps, Blackjack, Roulette, Texas Hold ‘Em poker all come in to play tonight as players feel like they are in Vegas for the night. Hopefully you’re a good player because all those winnings can be spent on the silent auction which includes gift certificates, hotel packages and so much more.

It’s a blast of a night and all you have to throw down is cash for the ticket. The chips are given to you upon entering. How can you possibly beat that? Well, maybe by helping raise money for Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, that’s how.

DEETS: Audi Dallas, 5033 Lemmon Ave. 7:30 p.m $50 advance, 65 door. For tickets, click here.

—  Rich Lopez