Charity Treks, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Riders and volunteers from across the country had signed up to participate in a ride from Montreal, Quebec to Portland, Maine. Just prior to that ride in 2002, the organization sponsoring the event folded.
Having already fundraised and planned, roughly 150 crew members and riders decided to honor their commitment to a vaccine for HIV/AIDS and do the bike ride anyway. The motto of that year became “Ride Despite”. And ride they did. The outpouring of support from local organizations and individual participants was such that members of that year’s ride committed to repeating the event.
Charity Treks was formed and incorporated as a non-profit.
Key to the mission of the organization was to ensure that 100% of the donations given towards the cause actually made it to the beneficiaries (the Emory Vaccine Center and the UCLA AIDS Institute). In order to accomplish this, members of the board, community organizations and large businesses donate goods and funding to support the ride. This, in addition to the registration of the riders, covers the costs of the event (crew members are not charged a registration fee). This unique structure allows each and every dollar that is given to go towards the research that is leading us towards a vaccine.
Since its inception, Charity Treks has given over $1,600,000 to the beneficiaries in the form of seed grants. Seed grants are extremely valuable as none of the dollars are “earmarked” and as such may be used in the areas of greatest need or greatest potential, at the discretion of the researchers. These grants are typically $25,000 to $40,000 each. These smaller grants are then used to fund creating a proof of concept that can then be submitted to larger organizations such as the National Institute of Health, World Health Organization or others to achieve much larger grants. To date, the seed grants provided by Charity Treks have resulted in millions of dollars towards novel concepts to reach our goal; a world free from AIDS.