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: Doubly positive

E-racing Stigma team captain David Hodge, left, and his team members

David Hodge, captain of the E-racing Stigma team for Lone Star Ride, says cycling for the cause is in his blood

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

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS cyclist David Hodge is what you could call doubly positive: Not only is he one of the most upbeat, life-loving people you could hope to meet; he also happens to live with the very disease that LSRFA exists to combat.

When he turned 40 five years ago, Hodge decided to mark his definitive entry into middle age with a celebration of physical fitness.

“I wanted to do something big and fantastic,” the Parkland imaging specialist recalls. “Some friends of mine and I were talking about bicycling, [something] I hadn’t even thought about for a while. I hadn’t been on a bicycle in 20 years.”

So Hodge immediately began training — but not for the LSRFA.

“We have a similar ride in Atlanta,” he says. “The name of the event is the AIDS Vaccine (AV) 200 and [it benefits] the Emory AIDS Vaccine Center. I [started participating in] 2006.”

As the name suggests, the Atlanta ride covers 200 miles, about 20 more than LSRFA. It also takes place in late spring (May) rather than late summer (September).

Hodge’s resume also includes two appearances in the seven-day AIDS LifeCyle Ride, which takes place every year in June. The route covers approximately 600 miles between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Hodge officially began riding with the LSRFA just last year, when he moved from Atlanta to Dallas. But already he’s doing double duty as the captain of one of the oldest teams to be saddling up for the event: E-racing Stigma, the LSRFA Positive Pedalers team.

“The whole concept [for the team] came from [a desire] to get the word out,” he says. “Just because you have an [HIV] diagnosis, that is not a death sentence anymore so long as you take care of yourself. You really can be an active member of society and help out anywhere you can.”

As team captain, Hodge fulfills a number of important duties.

“[I’m] the person who gets all the information out, whether we’re having social events or training rides,” he explains. “[I also have to] keep people motivated to get their fundraising done. [Our] team is also very involved in the closing ceremonies.”

Participating on a team like E-racing Stigma is a lot like riding with family. Members bond through similarities — in this case, positive diagnoses. At the same time, they also take care of each other on the road.

Says Hodge, “In the bicycling community, when you go and out and deplete your body of every ounce of water and electrolytes and food, [you’re in danger of] ‘bonking.’ Your fellow riders watch out for those kinds of [potential problems].”

A potentially deadly disease may reside in Hodge’s body, but so does an equally passionate dedication to cycling for the community he loves. In May, the E-racing Stigma team captain returned to Atlanta to participate in the 2011 AV200; and recently, the odometer reading on Hodge’s current bicycle slipped over the 4,000-mile mark.

“[The cause] is something that’s very dear to my heart, so that’s why I keep doing what I do and cycling as many miles as I can,” he says. “It’s in my blood now and I can’t stop doing it.”

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS will be held Sept. 24-25. To donate to an individual rider, to a team or to the Ride itself, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

—  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

Pedaling Olives: An Evening with Michael Godard

Rock star meets high art

Dallas Voice, Wisby – Smith Fine Art Gallery and Hudson Ferus Vodka present an extraordinary collection of works by Artist Michael Godard. Michael Godard, is known as the explosive “Rockstar of the Art World”, and global top selling artist!

His world of art invites us into his lighthearted perspective of life surrounding us, with animated olives, grapes and, dancing strawberries. His unique portrayal of fun is an exciting combination of imagination and subtle humor, which evoke the creative side in “Olive” us right down through our souls. He has redefined art as we know it with a new definition and of course a punch line. Come meet Michael Godard at this very special event and enjoy complimentary beverages.

The night is also a fundraiser. Ten percent of proceeds from art sales will benefit Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS!

DEETS: Wisby-Smith Fine Art Gallery, 500 Crescent Court. 6 p.m. For more information, click here.

—  Rich Lopez

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

Final bets at the finale of Team DV’s P-P-P-Poker Tourney

Ante up to the table

Team Dallas Voice and Pocket Rockets Dallas are raising money for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS by holding a P-P-P-Poker Tournament at clubs across town. After three weeks, the event has come to the grand prize final.

Because this is Dallas, not Vegas, the game play is free, so if you want to contribute to the LSR cause, bring cash to enter the raffle. Among the prizes available or that have been won are tickets to see Dolly Parton (we’ll resist the urge to call this one a “booby prize”), Ke$ha and Chelsea Handler,  tickets to the Texas Rangers and Lone Star Park horse races, Starbucks coffee, a set of poker chips, books, grooming supplies and much more … and the final grand prize: Two tickets on American Airlines anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

DEETS: Check out the Facebook event page here for details.

—  Rich Lopez

Weenies & Martinis fundraiser tonight at Jack’s Backyard

These weiners don’t tweet
We’re not sure what culinary masters would think of this pairing, but Weenies & Martinis sounds just fine to us. The Lone Star Ride fundraiser features a weiner roast (jokes welcome), s’mores and all the ingredients for a grown-up campfire. The best part is that 100 percent of the proceeds go to LSR Fighting AIDS.

DEETS: Jack’s Backyard, 2303 Pittman St. 7:30 p.m. $20. Search the event on Facebook.com

—  Rich Lopez

LSR starts season with record number of riders

Jerry Calumn at the LSR kick-off party on Sunday.

Lone Star Ride kicked off its new season with a party on the ninth floor of the Wyly Theatre in the Arts District in Downtown Dallas on Sunday afternoon. More people are registered for LSR’s 11th annual ride Sept. 24-25 than ever before at this point in the season.

Previous riders were offered half-off registration fees if they brought a new rider who registered for this year’s event.

At the kickoff party, about 115 people registered to ride, bringing the total to 134. In addition, 48 people have committed to serve as volunteer crew members.

Jerry Calumn, the new ride director, said that he expects cumulative donations to beneficiaries this year to surpass the $2 million mark since LSR was founded in 2001.

Calumn said he thinks a number of crew members from previous years signed up this week to be riders.

“There was a great energy,” he said.

He plans to continue that energy with a number of events in addition to the training rides. Several events are planned for Fort Worth as well. On June 1, they will have happy hour and sign up riders at The Garage at The Pour House, 2725 W. 7th St.

Calumn worked at Resource Center Dallas during the 1990s. RCD is one of the event beneficiaries along with AIDS Services of Dallas and AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County. More pics from the kickoff party below.

—  David Taffet

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS on Sept. 26

Photos by Linda McKinney/Dallas Voice (LindaMcKinney.com)

PLEASE NOTE: Slideshow will take a moment to load.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO FROM THE RIDE

—  John Wright