Los Angeles resident and Carthage native Thomas R. (Tommy) Gaebel is training to join thousands of other riders for AIDS/LifeCycle the seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles in June.
The Ride as its known to participants, is the worlds largest annual AIDS fundraiser. It will be Mr. Gaebels 12th time participating in the event, which takes place from June 1 to 7.
Mr. Gaebel is the son of Richard R. Gaebel, who died in 2010, and Ruth E. Gaebel. He is a graduate of Augustinian Academy and Carthage Central High School class of 1984. He graduated from SUNY Oswego in 1989 before moving to Los Angeles, where he has lived for the past 23 years. He is a senior art director at an advertising agency in southern California.
I started riding early, around age 6, and I have always loved cycling Mr. Gaebel said in a news release.
He said he rode his bike daily delivering papers for the Watertown Daily Times (averaging 3 miles a day) and routinely rode from home to school (2.7 miles) as often as the weather would let him as a young boy in Carthage.
Signing up for the AIDS ride in 1999 seemed like a natural thing to do. he said.
Mr. Gaebel typically rides 15 to 20 miles a day while in training for the ride, and will do one or more training rides of 100 miles in a day prior to The Ride. He is active in the Aids/Lifecycle community and has been a training ride leader since 2010, helping other riders train and prepare for the seven-day ride in June.
Each day of the event we rise between 4 and 5 a.m., for an average days ride of over 70 miles, Mr. Gaebel said. Some days (are) longer, over 100 miles, and some shorter. The route can change from year to year.
Mr. Gaebel did not ride in last years event. But he did raise $6,000 for the cause. Also, he and another volunteer provided refreshments along the route after they created a doughnut wagon for riders.
Although Mr. Gaebel would be considered an athlete by most peoples standards, it hasnt been an easy road for him. In 2010, he was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with a broken neck, two broken legs and a double-fractured pelvis.
He said he was in intensive care for a week before he could risk the surgery that would piece him back together again.
He was in White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles for a month before he could return home. Even after such a traumatic event, with a plate in his pubic bone and two large screws in his pelvis, Mr. Gaebel found the strength to begin training again.
With the help of friends, family, and a close neighbor who was his yoga instructor, Mr. Gaebel raised the funds needed ($3,000 per rider), regained his strength and returned to The Ride in June of 2011, and again in 2012 with his cousin, Jason Thesier.
Mr. Gaebel has raised more than $40,000 since 1999.
I am committed to AIDS/LifeCycle because I want to do my part to see an end to HIV/AIDS, Mr. Gaebel said. I have several friends suffering from HIV/AIDS, and Im riding to help keep those people alive. With the money Ive raised, the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation can continue to provide critical services for the HIV-positive community and prevent new HIV infections through programs, services and education.
According to AIDS/LifeCycle director Greg Sroda, since The Ride began in 1993, participants have raised more than $180 million and completed more than 40,000 journeys from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
To assist Mr. Gaebel in reaching his fundraising goal of $3,000, visit http://wdt.me/aWBeah/.