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  • SCU students treat cyclists riding 545 miles for AIDS/Lifecycle 2023 fundraiser

SCU students provide treatments to cyclists riding 545 miles for AIDS/Lifecycle 2023 fundraiser


From June 4-10, over 2,000 cyclists and volunteer “roadies” embarked on a 545-mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money to fight to end HIV and AIDS. AIDS/Lifecycle is the world’s largest annual HIV and AIDS fundraiser and has been proudly supported by SCU since 1996, providing healthcare to the cyclists from start to finish.

Since its inception in 1994, AIDS/Lifecycle participants have raised more than $300 million to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the HIV-related services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. In addition to funding critical services such as HIV testing and screenings for other sexually transmitted infections, HIV care, harm reduction, and prevention services including PrEP, AIDS/Lifecycle raises important awareness that AIDS is still devastating our society, particularly the LGBT community and communities of color in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and throughout California.

SCU student healthcare for cyclists

SCU students and faculty participate as volunteer healthcare roadies for the full week of AIDS/Lifecycle, joining the mobile village of 3,000 cyclists and roadies that make up the event. The team consists of both chiropractic and acupuncture students who care for the riders at each camp, morning and evening. There, they gain invaluable experience in a clinical setting, and all treating students receive community service and/or clinic hours, while Front Desk students that manage patient intake are automatically selected for treating students the following year.

Participants wore red on day five of the ride, also known as Red Dress Day, to resemble a giant, living red ribbon.

SCU Team Coordinator James Cox, DC first participated in AIDS/Lifecycle in 2006, serving as a SCU student roadie for two consecutive years. He describes the environment as a “love bubble,” a phrase that cyclists and roadies echo. For students, this kind, welcoming environment provides an invaluable experience to hone their communication skills and efficacy in treating patients quickly to get them back on the road.

From the classroom to the road

The application process for SCU roadies begins as early as January with the initial announcement to students by Dr. Cox, followed by interviews in late March, the team announcement in April, and training in May. To be eligible for selection, students must meet the GPA minimum of 2.5 and submit a CV and a brief expression of interest. While interviews previously consisted of a panel, this year students were interviewed one on one with Dr. Cox, which he believes contributed to the cohesiveness of the team.

Having a roadie team that works well together is integral to the success of the event, as teammates spend the week together treating riders at each site from 6-8 a.m., traveling to the next camp on the route, and treating again from 2-8 p.m. Dr. Cox encourages students to mingle with the other roadies and riders during their dinner break, an exercise in human relations that they can bring into their practice. These experiences over the course of the week build students’ confidence and shape how they interact with patients in their own future practice.

An Indescribable Event

SCU president Dr. John Scaringe with SCU roadies at the final AIDS/Lifecycle camp in Ventura.

Dr. Cox says the feeling of being at an AIDS/Lifecycle event is “indescribable” for those who have yet to experience it. SCU president Dr. John Scaringe, DC, EdD echoed the sentiment when he stopped by the final campsite in Ventura with his wife, Dr. Christine Veltri, to show support to the riders and roadies in the final stretch. “It’s always a thrill for me to see our students in action,” Dr. Scaringe said. “Their dedication to providing excellent care to the riders giving their all to this important cause is what SCU is all about. SCU keeps them riding!”

SCU roadies traveled the full 545 miles alongside the cyclists, treating them all the way to the finish line in Santa Monica. This marked the first beachside finish since AIDS/Lifecycle started in 1994. Dr. Cox had only great things to say about the waterfront finale, attesting, “It was the best finish I’ve seen.” But what keeps him coming back year after year? “It restores my faith in humanity.”

Continuing the Fight

According to the AIDS/Lifecycle website, in the seven days it takes the AIDS/Lifecycle riders to reach Los Angeles, more than 650 people in the United States will contract HIV. In addition, more than one million people are currently living with HIV in the U.S., and one in eight people living with HIV nationwide are not aware of their status. “The contributions of thousands of people who are part of the AIDS/LifeCycle community—riders, roadies, staff, and donors— provide the resources necessary to continue this fight,” says Joe Hollendoner, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

The 2024 AIDS/Lifecycle event will take place June 2-8. Prospective SCU student roadies can look out for application announcements starting in January 2024. For questions and further information, contact Dr. Cox at jamescox@scuhs.edu or (949) 939-6434.

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