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SMART Ride Doles Out $1.4M From Final Ride

From OutSFL Senior Reporter John Hayden published 1/16/2024 in OutSFL.Com

The numbers speak for themselves: 20 rides, thousands of volunteers, over $16 million raised, countless lives helped.

Hunters Nightclub was packed Jan. 14 as riders, leaders of benefitting agencies, and community supporters gathered for one final check presentation. In September, organizers announced this year’s ride would be the last.

Founder Glen Weinzimer stood in front of a grateful crowd and announced the final ride raised nearly $1.4 million. The six main benefitting agencies, which all help people living with HIV/AIDS, each collected record sums, ranging from $204,000 to $285,000.

Other agencies, including The Pet Project, were given smaller disbursements that would usually be held back as an “emergency fund” given out during the year.

“I feel really grateful,” an emotional Weinzimer said after the check presentations. “This community comes together. I’m the guy on the soapbox, but they’re the guys who showed up and raised the money. I just love them.”

At the end, the grandest of grand totals was announced. Over the life of the event, the SMART Ride raised $16,377,287.68. Every penny, down to that 68th cent, was returned to the community.

Weinzimer is a 30+ year HIV/AIDS survivor who was once given just days to live. Miraculously, he survived and became active in the HIV/AIDS community. He quickly noticed that many fundraisers collected tons of money, but very little was returned to the community.

He created the SMART Ride with the goal of giving 100% of every dollar raised by riders, crew, and volunteers where it’s needed. Weinzimer never wavered from this goal. Case in point: the email announcing Sunday’s check ceremony was headlined “Where Does My F*($k)#@ Money Go?”

Compass, Palm Beach County’s go-to source for the LGBTQ community, is a longtime benefitting agency. Dylan Brooks said how important the ride was to them financially and beyond.

“Not only is it a fundraiser, but it brings together a community in more ways than one.”

The event started with a brunch and lots of cocktails as veterans and rookies, riders and supporters, mingled and shared stories. Afterward, the crowd was slow to disperse. No one was anxious to leave, because leaving had a finality no one was ready to acknowledge.

Stay tuned for addition information on the new version of The Smart Ride.

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