By: Emiliano Vazquez-Parrales, Section Editor for Student Voices (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mitch Valentini is at the end of his undergrad career and like many of us he faces the same trials and tribulations that come with graduation. Final exams, papers, presentation, and work clog up his schedule like fat in an artery but despite that he has not stopped trying to gather donations to sponsor his bicycle team as they ride for a cure for AIDS/HIV .
Mitch, along with his team which includes his twin-brother Phil, will embark on a two-day, 200 mile long bike ride that will take them from Chicago to Wisconsin and back. His team, The Never-Nudes (if you know where that name is from you win), are supposed to raise $1,000 each and an additional, but not mandatory, $500 per rider in order to participate in this ride sponsored by Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN). TPAN is a Chicago based organization with the goals of empowering those that live with AIDS/HIV by providing with support programs, wellness services, and medical assistance as well as continuously advocating and pushing for a cure for AIDS/HIV. All the money raised by Mitch and his team will go towards research into a cure for AIDS/HIV.
“I do it for a few reasons, the first of which is because I have met many people who have been helped by TPAN, some of who were on the brink of suicide.” says Mitch in an online interview we had. “I also do it because I know people who are HIV/AIDs positive and I want to do as much as I can to either A) help find a cure for it or B) try and eliminate the stigma that is attached to being HIV/AIDs positive.” But perhaps the most important reason of all for Mitch to do this is,” because my brother is gay and as such he has a greater chance of contracting HIV/AIDs and I want to do as much as I can to make sure that if he does there is ways for him to get cured.”
I have made my donation because I admire what Mitch and his team are doing, and believe no other cause deserves as much research and investment as finding the cure for this devastating virus. On average HIV/AIDS kills about 1.6-1.9 million people per year, and currently there are 6.1 million people receiving Antiretroviral therapy.
Of course their are other benefits to training for this ride the first being that since he started training in August of 2013, Mitch has gone from 217 to 148 pounds. Mitch has dedicated himself to being prepared for this ride by attending his spin class regularly as well as jogging and exercising on his own time. His personal donation page provides details on Mitch and how much has raised so far for this ride.
“It’s fun, it pushes me psychically and mentally, and I get to meet great people day in and day out.”