When Jenna Smith, a 2009 Terra Nova High School graduate who is now a senior at Fresno State studying Recreation Administration with an emphasis in Event Planning, asked her best friend what the best moment of his life was, the last thing she expected him to say was a 545-mile bike ride.
But that’s exactly what it was, and the more she learned about this seven-day Aids Life Cycle Ride, the more she became inspired to do it herself.
So much so, she made a dress out of condoms and condom wrappers to help spread the word about "Spreading the Love, not the Disease" and gain support from her community to sponsor her ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles June 2-8 to raise awareness and funds for the cure and prevention of AIDS.
“I knew it would be hard, and that I would need to put a lot of effort into training and fundraising, but I had to do it," she said. "I have been on long bike rides, but on this ride, some days we will be riding more than 100 miles, so it is a little intimidating, but I can do it."
To make the dress Smith wove colored condoms with clear condoms at the top of the dress and then sewed it together. Then for the wrappers, she glued them "because sewing would rip the foil," she said.
For the bottom part, she made strips of two condoms, alternating in colors, then sewed them onto a belt to create a skirt.
"My personal favorite part is the belt I made with the rainbow wrappers. It is a separate piece that I will probably wear with other outfits," she said.
In the few months that Smith has been involved with the Aids Life Cycle Ride, she says she has met many people who are riding for different reasons: some of them are HIV positive, and some of them have lost people that they love to AIDS.
"I want to help. I am moved by the strength of everyone I have met, and I am honored to be a part of this loving community and to get a chance to make a difference," she said.
Smith admits she has never done anything like this before although she has been involved in fundraising for causes in the past through the various organizations she has been a part of such as class president at Terra Nova High School and serving as president for the Fresno State Recreation Association club. She plans to graduate in May and is currently in the Pacifica Spindrift Players production of "Godspell," which runs on weekends through March.
“My goal is to raise $3,000 that will go directly to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and other organizations that provide prevention and care such as reducing HIV infections, encouraging HIV testing, and improving the health of people living with HIV," she said.
Smith also put together a YouTube video explaining why she rides. She’s hoping for support and any amount is welcome. All donations are tax deductible and can be made on her blog page here. Or view her donation website here to go directly to the AIDS Life Cycle Donation page.
“I love this community," said Smith, "and am hoping to gain its support on my journey. This cause means the world to me, and I want to help make strides towards ending AIDS."
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