The I'm From Driftwood crew is in California for the 11th annual AIDS/LifeCycle, a bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles raising money for HIV/AIDS. IFD founder Nathan Manske and guest videographer and editor Matthew Ladensack will be sharing daily video stories from some of the 2,700 participants who are embarking on the seven-day, 545-mile trek. You can follow IFD's daily adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
Along the AIDS/LifeCycle route we noticed a woman standing on the side of the road holding a sign. The sign was a photo of a man with his name, Gary Stainback, the years of his birth and death, 1950-1996, and a simple "Thank You" written at the bottom. We pulled over and asked the woman if she would be willing to share her story, and she agreed with one condition: that she wouldn't have to stop waving and holding her sign for a single second. We agreed, and Steph Stainback began telling us the story of her brother, Gary.
He lived in San Francisco and didn't find out until late in the story that he had AIDS. And at that point they didn't have the cocktail out that would prolong his life... It was really wrenching for my family. So we took took care of him for his last six months or so of his life, and it was devastating for our family to go through that.
Steph remembers her brother by thinking about how while she played football as a young girl, Gary played with dolls, creating a special bond and understanding that they could tell each other everything. She's now found another way to remember him:
My day is that I get up and pack a billion gallons of iced tea and my chair and my sunscreen... And then I jump in my car and race up here. I'm usually here by noon, and the first riders generally are just starting to come in. I'll be here until the last rider comes through.
The way Steph sees it, she's not just remembering her brother; she's immortalizing him:
This is where I come every year to be surrounded by people who understand what this is and why it's so important. So this is my way of keeping him alive. Every time someone even just looks at his picture, I know that there's part of him that's going on the ride with them. And that's really important, because that's the part of him that stays alive. There's my family, and there's this. So Gary is alive because of people like this.
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