When Susan Hunter arrived at the Health Sciences holiday party
last winter, she was famished, having just completed a 75-mile bike
ride with her husband, interim Provost Woody Hunter.
During her search for sustenance, Susan stopped to chat with Phil
Hills, associate dean for development at the medical school, who
knew a prospect when he saw one.
By the time they left the party, the Hunters were enlisted to spearhead
Emorys participation in this years European AIDS Vaccine
Ride, to be held June 30July 6, to raise money for HIV vaccine
research. For seven days this summer, an Emory team of scientists,
students, staff, alumni and others will cycle about 600 miles from
Amsterdam to Paris to help fulfill their vision of an AIDS-free
Two university research centersthe Emory Vaccine Research
Center, directed by Rafi Ahmed, and the UCLA AIDS Institute, directed
by Irvin Chenwill benefit equally from proceeds raised
from the European ride, as well as organizations in Europe conducting
AIDS vaccine research. The event is organized by Pallotta TeamWorks
of Los Angeles, organizers of the AIDSRides USA, which have provided
AIDS charities around the world with more than $97 million in eight
Volunteering to join the ride is a natural outgrowth of the Hunters
personal and professional interests.
Some of the most important research in the world is being
done here at Emorys Vaccine Center, said Woody Hunter.
Participating in the AIDS bike ride is a tangible way in which
my wife Susan and I can contribute directly to the support of research
that will, we hope, lead to new and effective ways to combat this
dreadful disease. Because the annual bike ride is the single largest
source of philanthropic support for the Vaccine Center, we hope
that we can, in our own way, make this effort even more successful.
As for personal pursuits, the Hunters began bike riding last summer,
and by November Susan Hunter had reached her century goal
of pedaling 100 miles in a single day. After you reach that
first 100-mile mark, you begin to look for whats next,
The Hunters certainly found a worthy new challenge. They are working
with Emory team leader Joe Miller, a graduate student and veteran
of two AIDS vaccine rides, to recruit a team, which must raise funds
to participate in the ride. To date, 10 Emo-ry community members
and their friends, ranging in age from early 20s to late 50s, have
signed up for the ride.
Apart from the serious purpose for the ride, Miller thrives on
the community spirit of hundreds of bikers who come together for
a common cause. The community is fantastic, he said.
Everyone pitches in to set up camp, and those who arrive first
at the next destination cheer in the riders who follow.
Each morning, the riders rise about 6 a.m., do stretching exercises,
pack up their tents and gear to load into a truck, eat a hearty
breakfast, then head out to pedal 80100 miles a day. There
are food stops every 20 milesthe food is fantastic
said Miller, who still managed to drop five pounds on his last rideand
riders are accompanied by medical personnel, transport vehicles
and other technical support. At the end of each night, participants
sleep in a mobile tent city, complete with catered meals,
hot showers, entertainment and remembrance tents for
The funds raised by the AIDS rides are crucial to the mission of
Emorys Vaccine Center, according to Ahmed.
Traditional funding agencies are usually reluctant to support
the bold and innovative strategies necessary for the development
of an AIDS vaccine, he said. Funds that the Emory Vaccine
Center has received from the AIDS Vaccine Ride have contributed
critically to our vaccine efforts. Our investigators are beginning
exciting new vaccine studies that have already achieved impressive
results in the laboratory and in animals.
Using funds from the $1.1 million contribution from the AIDS Vaccine
Ride in 2000, the Vaccine Center opened the Hope Clinic this year.
Led by Mark Feinberg, the clinic is devoted to conducting clinical
trials of promising new vaccines and therapeutic interventions;
already the vaccine team is conducting three clinical trials of
promising AIDS vaccines in conjunction with Merck & Co. Inc.
For more information on joining the Emory Team, or to contribute
to this years
ride, contact Phil Hills at 404-727-4055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.