Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

'Loving every mile'

Upcoming Red Ribbon Ride makes a difference


Courtesy photo

Bikers during the Red Ribbon Ride.

Bikers should strap on their helmets and volunteers can roll up their sleeves: The Red Ribbon Ride is rolling into town.

Beginning and ending at Camp Heartland Center in Willow River, and going into Carlton County, the multi-day bicycle event is not just about riding up to 166 miles in two days, Executive Director Marni Zimlin shared. "Red Ribbon Ride is about raising money and awareness; it's about loving every mile, not riding every mile."

The Red Ribbon Ride, she said, is about raising money for organizations dedicated to serving those living with HIV/AIDS. Five organizations in Minnesota collaborate to make the event possible, spreading awareness and working to "eliminate stigma for people living with HIV here in Minnesota." This will be the 16th annual Red Ribbon Ride, Zimlin added. This year's benefiting organizations are African American AIDS Task Force, Hope House of St. Croix Valley, One Heartland, Rural AIDS Action Network and The Aliveness Project.

It takes place from July 20 to 22 and "makes a huge difference for our beneficiaries," Zimlin said. Red Ribbon Ride works hards to have 50 percent of proceeds go to cost of production and the other 50 percent to the benefiting agencies "with a goal of doing better." She continued, "Our goal is to offset the cost of the production of the event so more, if not all, donations particpants raise go back to the beneficiaries." Not only do riders fundraise, the event welcomes community sponsors through monetary and in kind contributions.

Fundraising isn't the only part of Red Ribbon Ride. It's also a way to inform people about HIV today, about ending it through comprehensive care, as well as testing and prevention. Volunteers learn more about HIV, share what they are learning and are visible at the actual event in the local community.

Zimlin said anyone can join or form a team for Red Ribbon Ride. Riders are required to raise a minimum of $1,500 to participate. As part of the Student Rider program, riders are required to raise a minimum of $750. "This year, our two-day rides will offer different route options to encourage different levels of riders to join and (will be) very accesible to experienced and beginners."

Riding is not the only way to participate in Red Ribbon Ride. Zimlin shared that people are needed for their "Crew" team. Crew is made up of volunteers who participate July 20-22. "Crew helps in many ways, and we have jobs for everyone." From helping at pit stops, assisting the medical team, route-based teams and even help in the camp, there really is a job for everyone. A full list of Crew jobs can be found at Those participating as Crew are not required to raise money but are encouraged to set a goal of $500.

Of course, Red Ribbon Ride is a "ton of fun." In terms of legislation, it's an exciting time to get involved with awareness and fundraising to support HIV/AIDS organizations. "Right now in Minnesota, we have legislation to come up with a comprehensive plan to end HIV in the state." Many people affected by HIV struggle with access to care: "This is where our benefiting organzations can help." Testing, identification and access to proper care can lead to becoming "undetectable." The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Zimlin said, equates undetectable with being untransmittable. Because HIV "disproportionately impacts people of color, women and those living in poverty," access to care is paramount.

"Joining Red Ribbon Ride is a great way to get involved, give back to the community and make a difference in the path to end HIV here in Minnesota."

Visit their website at for more information and to sign up. You can also follow updates on Facebook at Red Ribbon Ride. If you have specific questions about Crew jobs or how to sponsor the event, you can contact Marni Zimlin at


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