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.

As we continued down Cedar Springs, we rode and made loops but at one point we were stopped as a fire engine returned to the station. That’s when one man along the sidelines made me remember how relevant and how important Lone Star Ride continues to be today.

“Thank you,” he said, clasping hands of a couple of us.

We told him it was our pleasure to ride.

“No,” he said because we were not completely understanding what he meant. “Thank you for doing this for me.” He had tears in his eyes.

Then he said it again slower to make sure we understood that what we did had a real impact on the lives of people in Dallas today. “Thank you for doing this for me.”

I’m sure everyone who rides and crews and puts together Lone Star Ride, would want him to know that he’s welcome. We wish we could do more.