October 20, 2014

UTU bus drivers unite in HIV/AIDS battle

SAN FRANCISCO — In this city, horribly devastated by HIV and AIDS, 24 members of UTU Local 1741 here are participating in a 565-mile bicycle trek to raise funds for support services and HIV prevention efforts.

Twenty-four members of the school-bus local, under the leadership member Beau Thomson, have participated in the event since 2005.

This year, 28 members of the local have formed their own cycling team, which will ride more than 565 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles over seven days as Team United First, which comes from a combination of United Transportation Union and their employer, First Student.

The team’s goal is to raise $100,000 from contributions. Already, $11,000 has been raised.

Most of the members of Team United First will ride bicycles, but others will serve as roadies, helping riders train and providing support services for the full week of the trip.

“In 2005, I was someone who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day,” Thomson said. “I was overweight and hadn’t done anything athletic in years. This year, I will train and ride with coworkers I’ve known for years. To see them experience this first hand will be priceless.”

Local 1741 President Sharon Wheatley said, “I enjoy helping people, and this ride seems like a good way to join the fight against AIDS, and to experience with some of my co-workers the fulfillment of working together on a fun and productive project. I have wanted to [ride] since 2005, and this is finally the year for me.”

Members of Team United First include Thomson, Wheatley, Marina Acosta, Chris Alexander, Kelly Beardsley, Sheila Bickerstaff, Marilyn Brown, Rosalie Carrico, Gerry Cooper, Lois Correa, Barb Donovan, Kathleen Duffy and Shelby Hall.

Also, Shane Hoff, former member Chris King, Sherrie Klein, David Kush, Terrance Levingston, Rina Luna, Gerardo Martin, Mario Ortiz, John Reardon, Rivas, Renee Roberts, Gabe Rocha, Julio Ruano, Emily Taormina and Dexter Thomas.

To make a donation, visit www.aidslifecycle.com. Select “Find a Participant” and enter “United First” in the team name space.