News Release: Research , School of Medicine , Woodruff Health Sciences

Aug. 22,  2011

Action Cycling Raises $1M for AIDS Research, Service Organizations with Bike Rides

News Article ImageTeam SPR gathers for a photo before the beginning of the AV200 on May 14, 2011. The team, which was participating in the ride for the first time, raised $25,000 for the Emory Vaccine Center.

In the nine years since a group of cyclists formed Action Cycling Atlanta to raise awareness and support for the Emory Vaccine Center at Emory University, the nonprofit has raised more than $1 million. All proceeds for the group’s annual 200-mile bike rides benefit AIDS vaccine research and Atlanta HIV/AIDS service organizations.

This past May, the group raised $231,000 through the latest AIDS Vaccine 200 (AV200) ride. The 10th anniversary ride is planned for May 19-20, 2012.

“I think the ride has been so successful because we have maintained the original mission, which was to donate 100 percent of rider fundraising to our beneficiaries and to remain an all-volunteer organization,” says Bret Busch, president of Action Cycling Atlanta. “Being an all-volunteer organization gives people more of a sense of community around the ride.”

Busch first signed up for the AV200 as a rider in 2008 and quickly became involved as a volunteer.

“I had lost a couple of friends to AIDS and I had friends who were living with HIV, so it was my way of doing something about it. Many of the people who volunteer for the AV200 have similar experiences,” Busch says. “I had such a fantastic time doing the ride, I felt had to get involved. At the time I got involved, there was a leadership gap and the board asked me step in as ride director my first year. I jumped in with both feet, and it is the best thing I’ve ever done.”

Action Cycling’s steering committee consists of about 15 volunteer members who work year-round to organize the ride and gather corporate sponsorships. The sponsorships pay for the operations of the annual ride and allow the organization to donate 100 percent of rider fundraising to the Emory Vaccine Center and AIDS service organizations in Atlanta.

“The success of the ride is also based on having the best team in all of volunteer fundraising and the best team I have ever worked with,” Busch says.

Action Cycling Atlanta was formed in 2003 by a group of cyclists who had participated in other charity cycling events benefitting AIDS researchers and patients. Dismayed that more of the money raised by such rides did not reach beneficiaries, they decided to create their own nonprofit. To date, 100 percent of the money raised by AV200 participants has been donated to beneficiaries. Action Cycling is able to do this by underwriting the cost of the event through registration fees and generous event sponsors.

The unrestricted funds provided to the Emory Vaccine Center fill funding gaps that cannot be met through grant dollars alone.

"An effective HIV/AIDS vaccine remains the most challenging and the most essential goal in the world’s fight against this challenging disease,” says Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. "Scientists continue to make significant progress in creating vaccines to prevent and treat HIV infection, and the Emory Vaccine Center is at the forefront of this effort.”

The Emory Vaccine Center is one of the largest academic vaccine centers in the world and is renowned for its expertise in cellular immunity and immune memory. It is the only university-based vaccine research center in the United States to have an AIDS vaccine candidate in clinical trials.

“It is clear that the research coming out of Emory is some of the most innovative research around HIV in the world. Having vaccines in clinical trials is a testament to the quality of the work being done at the Emory Vaccine Center,” Busch says. “I personally believe that either the vaccine that eradicates AIDS will come out of the Emory Vaccine Center or it will be based on some of the research done at the vaccine center.”

Writer: Maria Lameiras

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The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Blog: http://emoryhealthblog.com
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci
Web: http://emoryhealthsciences.org

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