Off and peddling – hundreds of bike riders are taking on a two day, 165 mike bike ride from Coral Gables to Key West for a great cause.

The annual SMART Ride brings over 500 riders out every year to ride, enjoy fellowship and educate on the importance of helping people affected by HIV and AIDS.

“100 percent of the funds by our participants goes to seven organizations in the state of Florida,” said the group’s founder, Glen Weinzimer.

“It’s like a family that comes back every year and the excitement is bigger every year, and the amount of money we raise is ridiculous,” said rider Chris Caputo.

For some riders, this day means so much because the effects of HIV and AIDS hits close to home.

“I have friends who have been affected by this virus and it’s something that’s dear to me personally,” rider Charles Bland said.

Studies show that there’s growth of new infections of HIV and AIDS in ages 12 through 26. Florida is leading states in new infections, while Broward and Miami Dade lead the nation in new cases.

“It’s an obligation on all of our parts to say the word AIDS, to make it real, and talk about it,” Weinzimer said. “Because otherwise, it’s not going to go away and we need to be vigilant about it to get people to take care of themselves.”

So far, the organization raised over $8 million and they’ve raised $1 million each of the last four years.

“To see that growth, going from raising $169,000 to over a $1 million a year has been overwhelming knowing what the difference makes to people,” said Weinzimer.

Source: https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Cyclists-Hit-The-Road-to-Key-West-Raising-Money-For-HIVAIDS-Research-470140343.html