Posted by: MC | May 31, 2012

AIDS Lifecycle – “I’m doing this for all of us.”

“I am leaving on Saturday to join a team of medical professionals to support AIDS LifeCycle – a 7 day, 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to LA.”  These were the first words of an email I received this week from Calliope Crane (Voice 99 in 100 Voices – Americans Talk about Change).

Calliope and her cycling companions are pictured here.  In the way people in this country do with pretty impressive frequency, this group of colleagues and friends is off on an adventure with larger purpose.  They’ve chosen a personal challenge that in its fulfillment will contribute to work toward solutions for one of the acutely intense challenges facing citizens of our country and world.

This week Calliope wrote, not to pitch for funding but to let her friends and family get a sense of why her giant heart and strong body are drawn to the challenge of this bicycle ride.

Because I work with people living with this virus, I see first-hand:
*the effects it has on the body, mind, and spirit
*how astronomical the healthcare costs are for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) because not only are they living longer, they have so many co-morbidities and the medications are so expensive
*how much they benefit from programs that are funded and can support their ability to live well and independently.

I’m supporting this ride for anyone who has been affected by this disease; for my co-worker, Kristy Fleming who has been riding for 3 years, and her team mate David Duncan who has been riding for 15 years and is retiring from Life Cycle after this ride, for Bravis Cain Clark, my first HIV positive friend, and for my friends and clients who have passed and those who are living with the virus. For my own journey and commitment to be one of the best HIV nurses I can possibly be.   

This is not new to Calliope.  When we spoke about change back in April of 2009, she described her consistent engagement with the creation and furthering of community connections that carry benefits as concrete as getting food to each other’s tables and as ethereal as providing a sense of belonging.  Three years ago as Voice 99, Calliope offered this.

Here’s what it comes down to.  I want my daughter and all children to have the option to swim in a river that is crystal clear, to swim with dolphins, to eat nettles that aren’t poisonous.  To do that, I rely on myself and on the village. I have no idea why any of us built four walls to separate ourselves from one another.  It’s time again for us all to look to the village, to help each other. 

It takes listening to care well for our communities.  It takes listening to nurture the sense of wonder and possibility of the children among us   It takes listening to address the concerns of people experiencing life challenges – in particular to hear and support our relatives, friends and neighbors living with HIV/AIDS.  Calliope knows this and she lives it.

Beginning this Saturday (June 2) she will put her beliefs into action again, giving a week of her life to participating in AIDS LifeCycle.  As she heads out on this adventure she points to the seven days she’ll be cycling with a request to each of us.

 I ask you to please consider taking time to talk about HIV with someone you know, to think about how every 10 1/2 minutes there is a new HIV diagnosis and 1 in 5 people don’t even know they have it in the United States. 

We know that it is only together that we find solutions and prevent disasters.  We don’t always succeed.  We do, however, keep paying attention.  We keep passing the best we have on to our children and we keep participating in the communities we move through – the ones that, no matter the odds, keep going in the dailyness of showing up to and for each other, even in our differences.

It may not be so obvious to us that we are cooperating most of the time, especially since our attention is fairly constantly drawn to instances mess, calamity and dissension that sustain so much of our media and public leadership.  Calliope ended her email this week with seven words that seem, actually, to describe what most Americans do every day – in the conversations we have, the work we do (paid and not), the attention we pay to taking care of the communities we live in.

“I’m doing this for all of us.”

She is.  And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if when you took a look you saw that, without even really noticing, you are, too.


  1. I wish all people, old and young, would take a page from Calliope’s book and walk with her on her journey. As an RN, she could easilly work in an environment where her physical life would be—well, cushier. She chose, instead, to use her skills in an arena most people don’t even want to talk about, let alone do something about. My praises and gratitude go out to her and her collegues. I’m “on the road” with them in mind and spirit and am looking forward to watching their progress.

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