By Dale Madison
David Kitchen has such a familiar face that it might take a second for you to remember exactly from where you know him. The ever-conscientious, ever-smiling Kitchen, who works at Rosie’s Bar and Grill in Wilton Manors, will once more participate in the Smart Ride. What’s different for Kitchen is that this year, as well as giving back to the community, he is taking stand against a national outrage: The bullying of LGBT teens. “This has to stop,” says Kitchen.
“This is my fourth Smart Ride,” notes Kitchen, who says that the beneficiary this year of his fundraising—and cycling—efforts will be the Oakland Park-based Live Free Be Strong Foundation, which has a self-described mission of taking a stand to end bullying, by supporting grassroots organizations which provide education and outreach services.
“There are many members of the LGBT community who have experienced bullying,” says Kitchen, noting something that has become alltoo- familiar in today’s headlines. “One thing that I have found is that there is no age range,” he adds. “It can be a young man or woman coming out and dealing with their sexuality, or it can be someone older.”
Kitchen says that Live Free Be Strong attempts to impact three different groups which are ‘impacted’ by bullying: “Those who are bullies, those who are being bullied, and those who stand by and do nothing.”
The Arizona State alum has done more than take his bicycle on the road. “I recently made a presentation at Fort Lauderdale High School,” he explains, and notes that “on September 23, we will be collecting money at the Royal Palms Resort T Dance. There will be a fashion show presented by the Pride Factory, and eyewear provided by Chic Optique, and an open bar for one hour sponsored by Bud Light. Then on November 10, we are holding a yard sale, with all money going to the organization.”
Kitchen recognizes that there are individuals, businesses, and organizations that help make life better in our gay corner of the world. “Sidelines Sports Bar has been so supportive of the Smart Ride,” he notes. “They are hosting a Bar Olympics which will feature pool tournaments, poker, and darts, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Smart Ride.”
He has high hopes to be part of an ambitious agenda set by the organizers and sponsors of the event. “It’s our wish to raise $1 million this year for the Smart Ride,” he says. Those who want to be a part of that projected success, and to assist the Live Free Be Strong team riders in accomplishing it, can visit smartride.org, navigate to team 959, and enter the amount they would like to donate.
Kitchen says that he has excellent role models for giving back to the community, and making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. “I learned everything from John Zieba and Cliff Mulhahy, the owners of Rosie’s,” he says, with real gratitude. “I’ve watched these guys, and they truly love the community.” That sentiment seems to be catching.