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Giving calories for AIDS

patty ryan
GRAND CENTRAL
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By PATTY RYAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 19, 2002


ON A ROLL: Clinton Lee pedaled 130 miles in downtown Tampa Monday and got absolutely nowhere. Bad traffic? Not exactly. It happened on a stationary bike on Franklin Street.

He came back Tuesday and did it again, mustering 90 more miles.

Lee, 20, seems sane enough. He attends St. Petersburg College. He's lived in the same Seminole home all his life.

But there he was, pedaling in the hot sun and pouring rain.

"I'm a theater person," he explained. "We do pretty weird things all the time."

HIS PLAN: He's collecting money for AIDS vaccine research. People pay him to pedal -- $400 in donations Monday, then $128 Tuesday.

GENEROSITY, of course, is in the air. Joe Redner's Mons Venus put a sign up recently offering active military folks free admission and a free dance. They don't have to pedal, either.

CLINTON LEE is named for Clinton, Ind., his mother's home town. Fortunately, she didn't grow up in Low, Utah. She teaches third-graders. When Clinton Lee was that small, his drama teacher died of AIDS. It left an impression.

He was watching Comedy Central one night recently when he saw an ad for a European AIDS Vaccine Ride, a bicycle trek from Amsterdam to Paris, beginning June 30. Riders have to raise $5,000 in donations plus pay their own airfare and bike freight. The ride is one of many organized by the for-profit fundraiser Pallotta TeamWorks, based in California.

Lee, who works in a photo store, drained his savings account for the $250 registration fee.

Then he wondered how he could raise $5,000.

IT CAME TO HIM in a dream, he says. "I was in downtown Tampa on an exercise bike. I sat there until I raised $5,000. That's what I decided to do."

He got a permit from the city.

PITCHES for charity are commonplace downtown, home turf for the out-of-gas man and a few others. Lee met need-a-bus-ticket man and gave him $5. Then he met need-a-bus-ticket woman and got suspicious.

"Let me tell you, there are some scary people out here at 6 a.m.," he said.

That's when he started pedaling.

Early one day, he saw a man lingering near the Tampa police memorial, swearing at the air.

YOU WANT SCARY? After 130 miles and 12 hours of pedaling, he had burned only 2,500 calories, according to his little computer.

TO DONATE: Lee is registered as an official participant in the bike ride. Go to www.pallottateamworks.com and follow the link to the European AIDS Vaccine Ride site. There's a link to online donations and a place to search for Lee's name. Or, you can e-mail him at rideforacure@aol.com.

DISCLAIMER: Although Pallotta TeamWorks arranges events for companies the size of Avon, it has been criticized for spending too much on overhead. An Internet search on Google provides details.

MORE CHARITY: Remember the Plant High car theft that jeopardized a charity auction because all the donated goodies were in the trunk? The car was recovered, the missing gift certificates found, and, Sunday, the auction went on as planned. New Business Leaders in the Making raised $1,400 to help Lou Gehrig's patients. It happened at Islands' Fest 2002, Davis Islands' annual block party.

TOP DOG: The mayor's poodle Holly made an appearance at the Islands' Fest Pet Parade, escorted by Linda McClintock Greco. Oscar the pug, owned by Rhonda Kitchens, won the title of Most Attractively Challenged. A hedgehog and a hamster were among the 50 entrants. The hamster raised money for charity by spinning its wheel.

Just kidding about the last part.

- Times staff writers Sue Carlton and Amy Scherzer contributed to this report.

-- Tampa's Kennedy Boulevard was once called Grand Central. Now Grand Central is a weekly City Times column. Writer Patty Ryan can be reached at 226-3382 or pryan@sptimes.com.

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