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Team UCCN Finishes Strong in This Year’s TPAN Ride for Life

Photo of Faculty and staff from the Division of Infectious Diseases participated in TPANs 200-mile charity bike ride
Faculty and staff from the Division of Infectious Diseases participated in TPAN's 200-mile charity bike ride "Ride for Life Chicago" to support services for people living with HIV and those at risk. In the picture from left to right: Dr. Alfredo Mena Lora, Clinical Assistant Professor at UIC and Medical Director of Infectious Control at Saint Anthony; Diana Behena, Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (Nurse Practitioner); Charlie Peterson, Manager, Community Engagement and Clinical Research Education at Project WISH (UIC); Dr. Richard Novak, Head of the Division of Infectious Diseases at UI Health.

Over this past weekend (June 18-19, 2022), members of the faculty and staff of UIC's Division of Infectious Diseases and the UI Health Community Clinic Network (UCCN) participated in the 2022 TPAN Ride for Life Chicago as Team UCCN. This event was the culmination of a highly successful fundraising season that included an Amateur Drag Turnabout Show hosted by Hydrate Nightclub and a "Sip and Paint" event hosted at Pinot's Palette in Logan Square. Overall, Team UCCN raised just shy of $11,000 to help support services for HIV patients at UCCN, a network of six clinics located throughout Chicago, and TPAN, Chicago's oldest HIV service organization.

Photo from Sip and Paint Fundraising event in May
Team UCCN hosted a "Sip and Paint" Fundraising event in May as part of this year's Ride for Life. Team UCCN and community supporters raised $430 in donations while creating beautiful and unique pieces of art. Team UCCN wants acknowledge the generous support of Tony Porfirio and all the staff at Pinot's Palette in Logan Square.

Team UCCN cyclists, Dr. Richard Novak, Charlie Peterson, and Dr. Mena Lora, rode 200 miles on a round trip bike ride from Foster Beach, Chicago to Sawyer, Michigan. Diana Bahena, NP completed 50 miles, inspiriting everyone who knows her. She gave birth to her youngest son just six months ago!

A great number of dedicated crew members and volunteers from TPAN and the other teams assisted throughout the event. A special acknowledgment, however, is due to Team UCCN's very own volunteers and Cheerleading Squad: Nicolas Gordon Llinas, Elena Llinas, PhD, Lisette Villarreal, Gina Cook, Nayda Medina, Dr. Katie Mena, Maria Elena Mena, Soren Mena, Maggie Mena, and the Bahena family (Fabian, Penelope, and Jax). They kept the teams spirits up with their enthusiasm and provided essential logistical support throughout the weekend.

Photo of Team UCCN Volunteers and Cheerleading Squad.
Team UCCN Volunteers and Cheerleading Squad. In the picture from left to right: Gina Cook, Elena Llinas (Team Captain), PhD, Nayda Medina, Nicolas Gordon Llinas (Team Co-captain), and Lisette Villarreal.

The Division of Infectious Diseases wants to give a special thanks to Charlie Peterson. As a co-captain, along with Nicolas Gordon Llinas and Elena Llinas, Charlie was not only essential at planning and coordinating all of the fundraising events this season, but also performed at the Charity Drag Show and trained tirelessly throughout the Spring to complete the ride, despite bad weather and getting COVID. This is Charlie's first Ride for Life and he impressed and inspired everyone that met him over the weekend. In addition, Team UCCN is proud to crown him as the Most Accomplished Fundraiser of 2022, having raised $2,845 single-handedly! Thank you Charlie for your hard work and dedication!

The Division of Infectious Diseases also wants to acknowledge the incredible fundraising efforts of Diana Bahena, NP, Keith Ulrich, Robert Taylor, Dr. Andrew Trotter, Dr. Alfredo Mena Lora, Sharon Steckler, Dr. Richard Novak, Christopher Owen, Nicolas Gordon Llinas, Elena Llinas, PhD, and Renyce Powell, who raised $5,741 in combined donations! Our HIV clinics and TPAN will benefit greatly from your efforts!

Photo of Team UCCN’s youngest members of the Cheerleading Squad.
Team UCCN’s youngest members of the Cheerleading Squad. In the picture: Soren, Maria Elena, Maggie, and Dr. Katie Mena cheering and encouraging Dr. Alfredo Mena Lora and Dr. Richard Novak at a pit stop near the finish line.

Finally, Team UCCN and the Division of Infectious Diseases want to express their gratitude to TSgt Sam René, USAF and Dr. Andrew Trotter for serving as part of the Medical Crew; Keith Ulrich, Robert Taylor, and Christopher Owen for serving as Road Crew; and all the volunteers thought out this fundraising season (Colin Mascarenhas, "Rodd" Nealon, Derick Ellison, Brad Farrington, Mary Nimmer, Lakeeshe Smith, and Gwen Whitley).

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