Local Boy Does Good – Rides 545 miles for charity

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles resident and Northern NY native Tommy Gaebel is training to join thousands of other participants this June for AIDS/LifeCycle, the seven-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

" data-medium-file="https://oswegocountytoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/969804_10201402522211857_1583935686_n-300x300.jpg" data-large-file="https://oswegocountytoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/969804_10201402522211857_1583935686_n.jpg" class="size-medium wp-image-140639" alt="Carthage boy Tommy Gaebel celebrates his 12th ride for AIDS this June." src="http://oswegocountytoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/969804_10201402522211857_1583935686_n-300x300.jpg" width="300" height="300" srcset="https://oswegocountytoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/969804_10201402522211857_1583935686_n-300x300.jpg 300w, https://oswegocountytoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/969804_10201402522211857_1583935686_n-150x150.jpg 150w, https://oswegocountytoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/969804_10201402522211857_1583935686_n.jpg 460w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />
Carthage boy Tommy Gaebel celebrates his 12th ride for AIDS this June.

“The Ride” as it’s known to it’s participants, is the world’s largest annual AIDS fundraiser. This is Gaebel’s 12th time participating in the event, which takes place June 1–7.

Born and raised in Carthage to parents Richard and Ruth Gaebel, Tommy Gaebel is a graduate of Augustinian Academy, and Carthage Central High class of 1984. He graduated from SUNY Oswego in 1989 before moving to Los angeles where he has lived for the past 23 years.

He is currently a Senior Art Director at an advertising agency in Southern California.

“I started riding early, around age 6, and I have always loved cycling” said Gaebel, who rode his bike daily delivering papers for the Watertown Daily Times (averaging 3 miles a day, including Saturday delivery), and routinely ride from home to school (2.7 miles) as often as the weather would let him as a young boy in Carthage.

Tommy Gaebel (left) poses with an injured friend on the AIDS/Lifecycle
Tommy Gaebel (left) poses with an injured friend on the AIDS/Lifecycle

“Signing up for the AIDSride in 1999 seemed like a natural thing to do.” said Gaebel

Now at age 48, he typically rides 15-20 miles a day in training for the ride, and will do one or more training rides of 100 miles in a day before the event June 1.

Gaebel is active in the Aids/Lifecycle community, as he is currently Captain of TEam Titanium, and has been a Training Ride Leader since 2010, helping other riders train and prepare for the grueling seven days in June.

“Each day of the event we rise between 4 and 5 a.m., for an average days ride of over 70 miles. Some days longer, over 100 miles, and some shorter. The route can change from year to year,” he said.

Though Gaebel would be considered an athlete by most people’s standards, it hasn’t been an easy road for him.

In 2010 Gaebel was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident that left him with a broken neck, two broken legs and a double -fractured pelvis. He was in intensive care for a week before he could risk the surgery that would piece him back together again.

He was in White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles for a month before he could return home.

Even after such a traumatic event, with a plate in is pubic bone and two large screws in his pelvis, Gaebel found the strength to begin training again.

With the help of friends, family, and a close neighbor who was his yoga instructor, Gaebel raised the funds needed ($3,000 per rider), regained his strength and returned to the ride in June of 2011, and again in 2012 with his cousin, Jason Thesier.

Rider Tommy Gaebel has personally raiser more than $40,000 in the fight against HIV/AIDS
Rider Tommy Gaebel has personally raiser more than $40,000 in the fight against HIV/AIDS

“I am committed to AIDS/LifeCycle because I want to do my part to see an end to HIV/AIDS. I have several friends suffering from HIV/AIDS, and I’m riding to help keep those people alive, with the money I’ve raised (more than $40,000 since 1999), the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation can continue to provide critical services for the HIV-positive community and prevent new HIV infections through programs, services, and education,” said Gaebel. “I look forward to spending a week on the road with 3.000 of my closest friends, the community of AIDS/LifeCycle participants. We have the power to stop HIV transmission in our lifetime, and AIDS/LifeCycle plays an important role in making that happen.”

In the seven days it takes the riders to reach Los Angeles, more than 1,000 people in the United States will become infected with HIV. Especially alarming is the fact that one out of every five people living with HIV nationwide is not aware of their status.

“What these cyclists contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS is truly remarkable,” said AIDS/LifeCycle Director Greg Sroda. “Each year people from across the country and all over the world join us not only because the event is a life-changing experience for them, but because the money they raise changes the lives of people living with HIV. Since the ride began in 1993, our participants have raised more than $180 million and completed more than 40,000 journeys from San Francisco to Los Angeles.”

AIDS/LifeCycle participants play a significant role in helping to promote HIV/AIDS education and awareness through outreach to hundreds of thousands of people who support their efforts.

On average, each cyclist raises more than $5,000 though their network of donors, which includes family, friends, and co-workers.

To help Gaebel reach his fundraising goal of $3,000, visit www.tofighthiv.org/goto/tommy2014

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the beneficiaries and producers of AIDS/LifeCycle, are at the forefront of efforts to reduce new HIV infections and are dedicated to ensuring access to proper medical care for anyone who needs it.

Both organizations deliver essential community programs and services for HIV prevention, testing, care, and education.


AIDS/LifeCycle is a fully supported, seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It’s a life-changing ride—not a race—through some of California’s most beautiful countryside. AIDS/LifeCycle is co-produced by L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation and is designed to advance their shared interest to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. Visit us at aidslifecycle.org.

Since 1969 the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today our health center, shelters, performance stages, and classrooms serve more LGBT people than any other organization in the world. We are an unstoppable force in our community’s fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world, a world in which LGBT people can be healthy, equal, and complete members of society. Learn more at lagaycenter.org.


No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco. At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco. Through education, advocacy, and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable. Visit us at sfaf.org.