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Riding for a good cause

JAMES BALL, Sierra Sun

When Lisa Coronado-Smith’s good friend Scott Watters told her he was HIV positive, she said, “I had a lot of anger.”

After all, they had grown up in Truckee together in what Coronado-Smith calls a “roller coaster” friendship.

“Things are horrible, then things are great,” Coronado-Smith said of their friendship. “When he contracted the virus and told me, I was really, really mad.”

But in the years since he was diagnosed, Coronado-Smith said she has seen a positive change in him; a change which will culminate this summer in a 560-mile fund-raising bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, between the two friends.

Joining the AIDS Ride ’99, which winds along the 1 and 101 freeways June 6-12, Coronado-Smith and Watters will do something they’d never previously considered.

“I’m really scared,” Coronado-Smith said. “I’m to the point where I think I’m going to die, but then, you just have to do it.”

Coronado-Smith, an avid Jazzercizer, said she is new to biking.

“I’m really green,” she said.

In fact, the 28-year-old mother of two has never competed in a bike race, but said the knowledge that Scott will be by her side all the way gives her strength.

“I’m doing this because of our friendship and because it is something he really feels strongly about,” she said.

When Watters approached her with the idea of the race a year ago, she told him, “you sign up for it, show me all your stuff (registration) and I’ll do it.”

Now with three months to go, the reality of what they are setting out to do is starting to hit them.

“I haven’t gotten to the point where it’s really exciting yet,” Coronado-Smith said. “If I get out there and can’t go on, I’ll tell Scott to break my leg.”

Each biker in the AIDS Ride agrees to raise $2,500, which goes to people living with the disease and AIDS prevention programs. If the riders do not get enough money from sponsors, they must come up with the funds themselves.

Coronado-Smith said she and Watters are doing bike training in Reno on weekends, while they use stationary bikes during the week because of the snow.

The course should take them through approximately 80 miles per day, and their training goal is to reach 50 miles per day by April.

Coronado-Smith jokes about people’s expectations toward the race.

“Everybody keeps asking me, ‘wow, is he (Watters) going to be able to do it?’ and I say, ‘forget him. What about me?'” Coronado-Smith joked.

The fund-raiser, one of the largest in California, is in its sixth year, and Coronado-Smith said it provides participants a sense of being a part of something big.

“I’m also doing this for a sense of accomplishment; it’s major,” she said. “It will be one of my biggest accomplishments in life. I didn’t finish college. This will be something I actually completed.”

There will be a Jazzercise class in April, with proceeds benefiting the ride. For information, call Kris at 587-1434.

To sponsor Coronado-Smith, call 587-8090.


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