By Ben Thoma
This Spring, I experienced the joy of participating in the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. A ton of people ride bikes in races and tours every day. I am not special, but this ride is special. Here is why you should know about it, even if you are not a cyclist.
The ride is a fundraiser, netting half a million dollars to help fund 10 different HIV/AIDS charities in central Texas, supporting hundreds of people. But did you know that FUMC hosts an annual pre-race dinner in our Family Life Center? I wish you could have been there, because it is exactly what that building is meant for: to serve as a place of acceptance, connection, and facilitate spiritual growth. Dozens of people who have been shunned or hurt by religion were welcomed and shown grace by our church. It was beautiful!
The ride itself is also beautiful-both in scenery and people. Fortunately, I have not faced AIDS directly or indirectly in my life, but the cause became more personal during the ride. A mile from the toughest hill, the roadside wildflowers were joined by a steady cadence of red flags. Each had the name of someone who passed away from AIDS. Their struggle was over, but the signs reminded me their spirit was not forgotten. I have heard it said: We do not die when our body dies. We die when people stop remembering us. If this is true, then this community is keeping thousands of people alive with this ride.
This ride is truly a Tour de Heart!