Celebrity Bikers sounds like the premise for a new VH1 reality show. But even better than cheesy scripted drama, it's the idea behind the upcoming Kiehl's LifeRide for amFAR, a nine-day charity motorcycle ride to benefit HIV/AIDS research.
Lucky for us locals, this year's ride kicks off in our neck of the woods with a celebrity-hosted, pop-up urban picnic at the Kiehl's store on Lincoln Road Friday, July 13. Picnic attendees can hope to see the likes of John Corbett, Tyson Beckford, Jason Lee, and Marguerite Moreau, all aboard hogs to benefit AIDS research.
This free-to-the-public party is the first leg of the ride's next eight stops in various cities. The ride itself is an 1,800 mile hog trip across the U.S. to raise funds and awareness for The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Kiehl's will make donations at each city along the way, totaling $90,000.
We spoke to Kiehl's President & CEO Chris Salgardo on his commitment to HIV/AIDS research, his hog of choice, and how he gets celebs to climb aboard for charity.
Cultist: Was there anything in particular that drew you to Miami as a starting point for this year's ride?
Chris Salgardo:This year's starting point was dictated to us by our history and by a momentous event taking place on the East Coast this summer. As we began to plan this year's ride, our friends at amfAR shared with us that for the first time in 22 years, the International AIDS Conference would be held in in Washington DC in mid-July. We definitely wanted to be part of the festivities in DC, so we moved the ride into July, and mapped a route that would take us from Miami, where the ride begins, through Georgia, and up to Washington DC, making stops at a number of Kiehl's stores and counters along the way to celebrate with our customers and the communities.
It's 1,800 miles over nine days, longer than any ride we've done in the past, but we're thrilled and honored to be able to visit so many communities on behalf of amfAR, ending with the international AIDS community in Washington DC.
What's your motivation for supporting HIV/AIDS research in particular?
While this is only the third year of Kiehl's LifeRide for amfAR, our company has been supporting HIV/AIDS since the disease came to public awareness. Giving back to the community in which we do business has always been engrained in our mission statement, and in 1996, we made HIV/AIDS awareness one of Kiehl's three pillar philanthropic causes--our two other pillars are children's causes and the environment. Since 2001, we have raised over $2,000,000 for HIV/AIDS organizations. We will continue to support the fight until the cure no longer eludes us, and we will ride until there's a cure.
How did you recruit the specific celebrities who are participating? Does Hollywood have some sort of celeb bike club?
To my knowledge, there isn't a specific celebrity bike club, but there are quite a few well-known faces in Hollywood that ride motorcycles. I think it probably has a lot to do with the Southern California weather providing ideal riding conditions year-round! As many of those riders are also Kiehl's users, we've reached out to them individually with the invitation to join us on the road and be part of this adventure. It's not an insignificant ask; we're not paying them to ride with us, and each ride is a multi-day, 24-hour commitment away from their regular lives. But they all know that HIV just isn't going away, and we've been incredibly lucky to have a core group of riders like Tricia Helfer, Katee Sackhoff, Teddy Sears, Christopher Redman, and Marguerite Moreau that have given their time, influence, and motorcycle skills to be a part of this remarkable project year after year. This year, John Corbett joins us for the first time, and because participation always hinges on our riders' schedules, we'll be adding riders right up until a few days before we leave. This year's ride is going to be like none other.
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What's your history with hogs? And your bike of choice?
Riding is in my blood--literally. My father used to ride a motorcycle for the California Highway Patrol, and I've been riding myself for 25 years. I'm generally a Harley rider, but my current bike of choice is an incredible piece of art, a motorcycle custom-built by Paul Cox especially for Kiehl's. Paul, who has ridden on LifeRide since the beginning, used Kiehl's heritage as inspiration, and incorporated iconic elements of Kiehl's history into the chopper's design. It's a beast on the road.
You guys must pack your iPods for such a long trip. Any suggestions for riding tunes?
I'm a rock/alternative kind of guy. So anything that keeps my adrenaline up. I'll usually make a playlist before I start a ride, and that's my music until the end.
The pop-up picnic runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 832 Lincoln Road on July 13. It will feature a complimentary lunch on a pop-up lawn catered by celebrity chef and Fox's Hell's Kitchen contestant Robyn Almodovar. Attendees can meet & greet the celebs, pose for pics and score temporary tattoos. Kiehl's will also be offering 15% off all purchases. For every customer that visits Kiehl's stand-alone stores from July 13 through July 21, Kiehl's will donate $5 to amfAR (up to the $90,000 donation amount).