Mayor Teri Johnston and the Key West City Commission have proclaimed November 17th and 18th as SMART Ride Weekend in honor of the 20th year volunteer bike riders are making the 165-mile trek from Miami to Key West.
The Southern Most HIV/AIDS Ride – now known as The SMART Ride -- was founded in 2003 by Glen Weinzimer out of his own personal story of diagnosis and survival of HIV/AIDS.
Since its inception, The SMART Ride has grown to become the 2nd-largest HIV/AIDS bicycle ride in the country and the only one of its size to give 100% of every dollar raised to its beneficiaries. Over those two decades, nearly 10,000 riders and crew have participated in the 165-mile journey through Dade County and Monroe County and the cities of Coral Gables, South Miami, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Goulds, Cutler Bay, Homestead, Florida City, Key Largo, Tavernier, Islamorada, Layton, Marathon, Big Pine, and to the final destination of Key West.
In that 20 years, the ride has raised nearly $15 million to directly benefit and support HIV/AIDS service organizations and their clients that have been infected, affected, or are at risk for HIV and AIDS.
Over the past months, the rider has conducted various fundraising events to raise awareness and money for the cause. The events, notes the proclamation, “assemble and sustain a group of thoughtful, committed citizens that build relationships and raise funds to positively affect the lives of people, whom the citizens may have never met, and in so doing challenge themselves to stretch the limits of what they thought they could do as an individual.”
Through individual contributions and public/private partnerships, The SMART Ride is committed to creating, producing, and overseeing community-based events in which 100 percent of what the participants raise is given to benefiting service organizations. In so doing, the ride acts as an avenue for change in the non-profit fundraising community.