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Camp Laurel Asks Community to Ride and Help:

A slew of cyclists will pedal for a good cause on October 17, when the Camp Laurel Ride for AIDS 7 hits the Santa Monica streets. Those who strap on bike helmets and slip on cycling gear to take part in the event will be supporting life-sustaining programs for children, youth, and families impacted by HIV and AIDS.

Traditionally a two-day ride for seasoned cyclists, this year’s event offers three options, giving beginners and pros alike a chance to hop on board. Beginners should opt for the 30-mile fun ride, while those seeking a bigger challenge will want to choose the 50 mile route. For the more advanced athletes, there’s an 80-mile course. It all starts at Helen’s Cycles at 7:00 a.m., so rise, shine, and ride.

Founded by Margot Anderson in 1992, Camp Laurel is a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of people ages 3-24 who are living with HIV and AIDS. According to Camp Laurel’s statistics, there are more than 25,000 children in the United States living with HIV/AIDS, and more than 600 children on record as having HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County. With those statistics in mind, the crew at Camp Laurel offer year-round mentorship programs, life enhancement workshops, day camp programs and residential camp programs to its target population. The goal is to make young people living with HIV/AIDS aware that they are not alone, and that they do not have to live in shame.

“When I started Camp Laurel seventeen years ago, there were no services around for children with HIV and AIDS,” Anderson said. “There were camps for all kinds of young people, from those living with cancer to autism, so I thought ‘why not something for all of these young people with AIDS?’ It’s a place where these children can really be themselves and can learn how to educate others.”

The October 17 bike ride is a major annual fundraiser for Camp Laurel, and a necessary source of financial support. Each rider pays a $50 entrance fee, and pledges to raise at least $250. The ride includes an array of services for participants, from EMT stations to fully stocked pit stops complete with food and bike technicians. An after-party dubbed “A Day at Camp Laurel” will include arts, crafts, sports and more. All funds go toward the ongoing programs at Camp Laurel.

If you’re not a cyclist, there are several ways to support Camp Laurel. You can be a volunteer crew member for the ride or send in a donation directly. Ensuring that a child in need has the funding to work on wellness at Camp Laurel might just be the best good deed you’ll ever do.

To get more information about the ride or Camp Laurel’s programs, visit www.camplaurel.org or call 626.683.0800.

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