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Jack Mackenroth Raises $47,455 at BRAKING AIDS Ride

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Friday September 26, 2014

Two months ago Jack Mackenroth, a well-known HIV activist and novice cyclist, committed to BRAKING AIDS® Ride, a 3-day 300 mile bike ride from Boston to New York. As a lifelong athlete Jack figured that with the right training and equipment the ride would be extremely challenging but doable. The fundraising piece was a different story.

"I made the mistake of speaking before doing my research and I announced that I was going to raise $50,000 dollars in just seven weeks," said Mackenroth. "I figured that with my massive social media reach I could just put out a few occasional call outs and the donations would come rolling in. Wrong."

It's now commonplace to use social media platforms to promote projects and raise money through crowd funding. Mackenroth had to get creative after his first few attempts yielded tepid results. Subsequently he began "selling" personalized semi-naked selfies for donations over $250 dollars.

He would tag the name, business, website or social media handle of any major donor and post it on all of his social media outlets which have a reach of more than 500,000 followers. Leveraging his body as a billboard, Mackenroth sold ad space to would-be donors. The larger the gift, the more provocative the geography of the ad. And it worked.

"Donations started flowing in. And when I posted a pic and thanked the individual for their generosity, often other donations followed," said Mackenroth. "But honestly it was a lot of work. I was diligent every day and I did a lot of direct asking to virtually everyone I know -- online and offline. I followed up. I hounded people. I think there are some people who have permanently blocked my number."

Mackenroth's team was no less dedicated to the cause, raising on average $4500, each which is $1,000 over the minimum amount. Of the top 20 fundraisers for the entire event, six were members of #themackpack.

The buzz Mackenroth and his team created also gained the attention of two sponsors who believe in the cause. Martone Cycling Co. donated two bikes to the ride, one that Mackenroth used to incentivize donors to give larger donations, and one that was used as an incentive for other riders to push past the $5,000 mark.

The popular dating app, Scruff also jumped in with a $2,500 donation and the purchase of jerseys for the entire team.

"As an HIV-positive man this cause is very important to me so I worked really hard to be innovative and persistent", says Mackenroth. I didn't reach my goal of $50,000 dollars but honestly I didn't think I would even come close. And people can still donate here. And of course there is always next year."

Mackenroth hopes that by setting the fundraising record that it will draw media attention to BRAKING AIDS® Ride and Housing Works whose mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy and the provision of lifesaving services. It will also inspire and challenge others to dream beyond their "realistic" goals and step outside of their comfort zones.

"We're thrilled with the social media attention and much needed funds Jack's fundraising brought," said Andrew Greene, Housing Works Senior Vice President for Business Development and Marketing and BRAKING AIDS® Ride crew member. "His contribution directly helps our organization provide medical and mental health care, housing assistance and other essential services to over 5,000 New Yorkers in need."

Mackenroth concluded, "The BRAKING AIDS® Ride was life changing in so many ways. As you can see from the photos we had a blast and I made friends that I will have for life. You create amazing bonds with people when you conquer seemingly insurmountable challenges together. The ride was only 10 days ago and I could barely walk for two days after, but I can't wait to do it again. I encourage everyone to sign up for next year at BrakingAIDSride.org You will save lives and change your own!"

You can follow Mackenroth on Twitter and Instagram @jackmackenroth.

For more information about BRAKING AIDS® Ride, visit www.brakingaidsride.org

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.