Raising money for HIV and AIDS care
By Deb Silverthorn
Dallas native turned New York resident Jordan Traxler is putting one foot before the other as he prepares for the 2022 Cycle for the Cause — the 275-mile Northeast AIDS Ride from Boston to New York City. Over three days, beginning Friday, Sept. 16, Jordan and his partner Brian Davidson will join hundreds of riders raising funds for New York’s Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, known as “The Center,” which offers lifesaving HIV and AIDS programs and services.
“There are 38.4 million people around the world who are living with HIV right now but it doesn’t have to be the death sentence it was a generation ago,” said Traxler. “But there are so many who don’t know where to get educated and who can’t afford support, medications and really, who need community and mentorship. ‘The Center’ provides that and I believe in them wholeheartedly.”
The Center has been a beneficiary of Traxler’s commitment for years and, at press time, has raised more than $56,000 to support the nonprofit’s HIV and AIDS efforts. With every $100 raised, three young people can be assisted with HIV testing and safe sex counseling sessions; $250 provides one person with help in enrolling in health insurance and accessing health care options for affordable HIV medications; and every $600 raised can arrange for one person living with HIV to get individual, family and group counseling for three months.
Traxler’s favorite donors are under 10 years old, his niece and nephew, Lilly Mae and Oliver Arad, the children of Meghan and Amir Arad. The young philanthropists’ parents are both Dallas natives. The family now lives in Austin, where the next generation has loved learning about mitzvahs and tzedakah at Chabad of Austin’s Camp Gan Israel.
“I love Guncle Jordan and I’m really happy we could help him help other people. He really inspires me to do good things,” said Oliver, who turns 9 on Sept. 4, and who worked over two days in 100-plus temperatures, intent on helping his uncle’s cause.
“I want to support Hashem and do whatever I can,” he said. Already an entrepreneur in his own right, Oliver recently launched a YouTube channel (tinyurl.com/Oliver-Pokemon) and looks forward to teaching himself to play the piano.
Lilly Mae, 6, who helped her brother build the lemonade stand, revealed the secret ingredient to their lemonade: adding fresh oranges. Together, the siblings raised more than $360.
“I know my Guncle is going to ride a lotta miles and I’m proud of him. It was really hot for the lemonade stand but I’m glad we could help people,” said Lilly Mae, who loves cheerleading. “People should want to help other people so they don’t get sick or starve.”
Among the dozens of customers was Sandy Frysh, who returned three times because she was so “thirsty” — thirsty to help a good cause. Customers bought cup after cup, many leaving “tips” many times over to give to Traxler’s ride.
The Arads’ lemonade stand came as an activity while the children were in Dallas for three weeks at “Camp Glammy and Bear,” their annual visit to “Glammy” Steffani and “Bear” Todd Bailin. Alongside fun and frolic, “Glammy” makes sure her grandchildren spread their hearts.
“Tzedakah and caring about others isn’t new to the kids. They learn it at home, and they learn it when they visit us. Mitzvah projects are always a part of ‘Camp Glammy and Bear,’” said Steffani Bailin, who plans to be at the finish line to cheer on her son and Brian. “We live in the south eruv and put out a cooler of cold water over Shabbat for those who walk to shul. Other neighbors have seen how much it’s appreciated, and they’ve started participating too.”
The lessons of tzedakah and other good deeds are not new to the Arad children, or to Traxler, who remembers handing out sandwiches to those in need, an act “Glammy” continues with the next generation.
“This is my sixth Cycle for the Cause and the need is still so great,” said Traxler. He is a creative strategic director for Barrows North America and was raised at Congregation Anshai Torah. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout, was a BBYO Eamonn Lacey chapter president and graduated from Plano West Senior High and SMU Cox School of Business.
“My friends and family — the little ones with so much intention — supporting me and what I’m so passionate about, means everything,” he said.
To support Traxler, visit tinyurl.com/Traxler-Cycle-for-Cause.