06/11/2012 04:14 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

AIDS/LifeCycle Rider: 'AIDS Will Not Be the Boss of Me' (VIDEO)

The I'm From Driftwood crew was 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 have been sharing daily video stories from some of the 2,700 participants who participated in the seven-day, 545-mile trek. You can follow IFD's daily adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

Erik Walton tested HIV-positive in 1989. On some days his major accomplishment was making it from the bedroom to the kitchen, as he was being killed by the disease that had taken over 300 of his friends. AIDS took the life of his best friend just four years ago:

It's really rough, because I think about him all the time. I miss him. He was my last friend from the '80s that was still alive. And he's gone now.

Paul wanted to do the AIDS/LifeCycle to prove that he could do it, but also to commemorate all the friends he had lost, including Paul. Paul's sister swooped in at the end to make sure Erik could in fact participate:

His sister, when I was having trouble getting the money together to come here, got her posse together, and they put me over the top so I could come here. She said, "This is for Paul. So do it, or else!"

Despite having HIV for over 20 years and losing more than 300 friends, Erik will not allow AIDS to make him live in fear:

So many people, they give up when they test positive, or they think it's the end of their life. And I have a lot of friends who go into victim mode, and they just hide. I want to tell people, "You can do this. You need to have the willpower. You just have to say, 'No, you will not be the boss of me. You will not get the better of me. I'm going to do what I want to do.'" So I'm dedicating this ride to him, too, because I know he's with me, riding with me. I love you, Paul, and I miss you a lot. And I wish you were here with me, but I know you are, in some way.


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