CSC employee bikes to fight AIDS

Two summers ago, when Computer Sciences Corp. employee Karen Clark saw the sea of bike riders on the Mall in Washington, D.C., ending their 250-mile ride to raise money for AIDS research, she did not hesitate to join them the following year in the annual AIDS Ride.

"My sister and I were contemplating it already, but when I saw everyone coming into Washington, I knew that's what I wanted to do," Clark said. She started training in March 1997 for a ride that would take her and more than 1,400 other riders from Raleigh, N.C., to Washington and raise almost $4 million for AIDS support.

Clark managed to raise $6,300 for the ride by soliciting the help of friends, family and the staff at CSC— all of whom provided "an incredible support system," she said. The money went to benefit the Whitman-Walker Clinic and Food and Friends, two organizations that support people with AIDS in the Washington area.

Although Clark has not had anyone close to her die from AIDS, she was affected by the stories shared by other people who had lost friends or family to the disease. "This disease does affect everybody, and that really touched me," she said. "I thought I could make a difference."

Throughout the four-day, 350-mile ride, Clark carried on her bike the names and pictures of three people who had died of AIDS. One of them was a young girl named Heather Hertzan, who died of AIDS when she was 12 years old. Clark had heard about Heather from a friend and decided to contact the girl's mother to ask whether she could carry Heather's name on her bike. Heather's mother, Lori, touched by the thought, agreed.

Clark said she was impressed by the high energy level and strong sense of community demonstrated by not only the diverse group of riders and several hundred crew members but also by supporters who cheered them on.

"When I think about the ride, I don't think about the 100-degree weather we had to ride in every day," Clark said. "I remember the camaraderie and support. You don't necessarily have that kind of support in your life. The training, the ride—- it was all worth it."

Clark is participating in her second AIDS Ride this summer. Anyone wishing to support her ride this year can reach her at (703) 641-2463.

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