FORT LAUDERDALE – The 9th Annual SMART Ride began on Friday morning, November 16, with the participants in the two-day event to support the fight against HIV/AIDS assembling at 4 a.m. for a Ride Day orientation, and a 5 a.m. breakfast, just before the official gun-time of 6:40 a.m.
On Thursday, November 15, the riders, supporters, and event sponsors took part in Dedication Ceremonies and a Candle Light Vigil.
The Friday morning Ride Out kicked off the 165-mile long trek at MorningStar Renewal Center in the east-central Miami-Dade community of Pinecrest. By early afternoon, the riders began to arrive at the 100-mile point, Hawks Cay.
SMART Ride organizers say that this year’s top ten fundraising individuals were Timothy Haymon, Ed Pascoe, Julie Slater, Michael Dillon, Michael Fowler, Will Richardson, Gabriel Hernandez, Neal Harry Barton, William Renaud, and Paul O’Rourke, and the top five teams are the SoBe SAFE Riders, Pride Pack, Friends of Rosie’s, Let’s Roll Bitches, and Live Free Be Strong.
According to SMART Ride founder Glen Weinzimer, the ride raised over $860,000. The SMART Ride began in 2003 as bicycle event to provide 100 percent of pledges for the communities to use for direct services benefiting those with HIV/AIDS. Prior to last weekend, $3.3 million has been raised to support that goal.