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More than 2,000 riders set out from San Francisco a week ago for the start of the annual AIDS/LifeCycle ride. They were pedaling to raise awareness and about $10.5 million. The money supports programs operated by the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
The ride took on even greater significance for the cyclists this year because of concerns that the state budget cuts could affect AIDS programs.
"The neediest people are going to get hurt the most and that's always unfortunate," said cyclist Dean Clark. "In this great state we should be able to take care of the people who need it the most."
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed budget cuts that gay rights activists said would cut about $80 million out of HIV and AIDS services.
"If the budget passes as it is currently planned it will devastate many services," said Darrel Cummings who works with the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. "Care services, drugs for people with HIV and AIDS and prevention education services (would all be affected)."
"That money is needed. It's not a choice," said cyclist Jose Gomez. "We need it for the medications and basic living."
As they celebrate the end of this life cycle fundraiser, many participants are gearing up to start protesting budget cuts.