In 1997, Berkeley staff member Chris Murchison organized the first Cal
Team for the California AIDS Ride to raise money for AIDS organizations
in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In an oral history interview that
Fall he recalled how the team came about.
I went into it not expecting that to happen. I went in — I
had done the AIDS Ride two years ago, and pretty much did it as an
individual, and had a wonderful time and met lots of nice people and
enjoyed myself. This year when I figured out that I wanted to do the
ride again, I had the idea of getting a bunch of Cal people to do it
together — it just began as a real innocent idea. I was showing
photographs from the first ride to some friends of mine in Housing [and
Dining Services] and they just got so excited about it, and they wanted
to do the ride as well. So one of them actually signed up the same day
that I did, and we thought, “Well, let’s try to get some other people
who’ll do it too.” And it just kind of spread from the two of us to
other people that we knew, and then we kept running into other people
that we knew who were on campus who wanted to join us. Before long we
had a core of people, and we got together and decided to have a team and
decided to try to get more people to join us. And through those efforts
and through planning programs to tell the campus about the AIDS Ride and
tell the campus about what we were trying to do, and by going to staff
meetings and holding building parties and doing p.r. work getting
ourselves in the Daily Cal and the Berkeleyan and doing
training together and helping each other with fund-raising, we developed
this amazing little community of faculty, staff, and students, straight
and queer. It was an amazingly diverse group of people, and we came
together in a way I don’t think I have ever experienced before in my
professional life. And we really bonded, and really supported each
other and looked out for each other and helped each other. And on the
ride itself we were all there for each other. We had beautiful Cal Team
jerseys which we had designed for us and which we purchased and wore
during the week of the AIDS Ride.
Who designed them for you?
Jenne Mowry, on campus. She’s a graphic designer on campus, and she’s a
lesbian herself and she volunteered her time to do our graphic design
work for us.
What did they look like?
Oh — they were beautiful! [Laughs] Blue and gold, of course. On the
fronts, the shirt was divided down the middle and on the right-hand side
the shirt had a blue background with like a hundred “Cals” — little Cal
scripts in yellow, or in gold — different sizes and shapes and different
perspectives, all over that side of the shirt. On the other side it
had another Cal logo, a yellow background with a blue Cal logo. And
then the sleeves were blue. Along the sides of the shirts they had a
big, huge “UC Berkeley” on one side and “Cal Team” on the other side.
Then on the back of the shirts it was all blue with yellow lettering.
It had a big, huge bull’s eye, and in the middle it said “Cal Team.”
And then we had our sponsor, the University Health Services, had their
logo there, and the name of the company that made the jerseys. Yeah,
they were very bright. Makes for a very visible [image] — especially
when you have thirty-three people wearing them. It was great. I felt
very proud to be on the road and to see all these Cal people together
What were some of the highlights of the trip?
I think finding a group of Cal people at a pit stop or at lunch, and
just joining them and sharing stories about the day, people we’d met or
things we’d done or seen, and having a good laugh or a cry or a serious
moment. It was like seeing family on the road. Excited to see them,
and wanting to hug them and catch up with their day and find out how
they’re doing. That was the big highlight for me. We also had a tent
area in each camp site — we called it the Cal Village — we put all our
tents together. And it was really nice getting to camp at night and
getting to the Cal Village, because it really felt like coming home.
You’d get there, and there’d be some people who were there already and
they would greet you and ask you how your day had gone. They’d offer
maybe to help set your tent up, and kind of help you get directed in the
campus site. You know: “The showers are over there, food’s over there,
massage tents are over there.” It was just a wonderful feeling to
arrive in the Village every night. It felt so warm. And then just to
hang out in the camp sometimes and hang out in each other’s tents. Just
talk and laugh and get to know each other. That was definitely a
highlight for me. Definitely a highlight.
How much money did you raise?
We raised $110,000 as a team. We had a goal of $100,000, and we
individually were supposed to raise $2500 to participate in the AIDS
Ride. That’s required. So the way that we calculated our group, the
amount of money, was that we would take each individual’s fund-raising
accounts and total those up, and then we also would add any money we
raised as a group, because we had a number of group fund-raising
events. So that grand total was about $110,000. Which is amazing,
which is really good.