For 29 years, December 1st has marked World AIDS Day — an occasion where people globally unite to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness with the ultimate goal of continuing the fight against the virus.
For us, this day is also a reminder of the incredible work Aveda Artists have done and continue to do daily for the cause. Travis Jay Hazzard of Spoke and Weal in California is one such artist who goes the extra mile — or rather, 545 miles as he bikes the 7-day charity bike ride AIDS Life Cycle. Travis has done this each June since he moved to San Francisco. The ride – which starts in San Francisco and ends in Los Angeles, has raised more than $200 million since 1993* and funds the work of San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles LGBT Center to provide free HIV/AIDS medical care, testing, and prevention services.
“I grew up when the AIDS epidemic hit and people were scared and constantly talking about it,” Travis says. “Throughout the years, that conversation has subsided, but not here in San Francisco. Here, I am seeing how people are living positively with HIV every day, and how it rarely develops into AIDS.”
After moving to the city in 2015, Travis was feeling lost and wanted a challenge to expand his views and find a community. He’d heard about AIDS Life Cycle through coworkers and was intrigued even though he was a kid the last time he rode a bike. “This was an opportunity to physically, mentally and emotionally really stretch myself, and at the same time, be dropped into 3000 people I didn’t know. The results have been life-changing.”
Travis now has a crew of new friends that he calls family, and relishes in the peace and wellness of cycling. “Riding up the hills is hard work, but then you get to float down. Those long stretches give you time to breathe, think, be outside and simply interact with your world in a whole new way.”
And the ride is also doing its job of creating awareness. “Small towns up and down California that you wouldn’t imagine to be invested in the cause look forward to celebrate this journey with us,” he says. “They welcome us into their communities with special bake sales and cookouts that in turn also helps the towns thrive. There is a reason why the community calls AIDS Life Cycle the ‘Love Bubble.’ it’s literally seven days of more than 3000 people and communities joyfully coming together for one important cause.”
Every day of every year, Aveda Artists and salons across the world engage in charitable acts of compassion and kindness. Through #BeautyHeals we are celebrating the people behind these stories, and encourage you to search this hashtag for these inspiring stories.
If you are an Aveda Artist and have your own volunteering story to share, please do so through #BeautyHeals. By sharing and celebrating these stories we are paving the way for others to also give back— because passion begets passion.
SPREAD THE WORD, BE A PART OF THE CHANGE