Michael Hicks, who participated in the annual Ride For AIDS Chicago (RFAC) this past July, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Tuesday, Dec. 18. An openly gay Chicago resident who lived in Buena Park, Hicks was 38.
"I met Michael on the 2012 Ride for AIDS Chicago," said Richard Cordova, director of athletic events for the Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN), which produces the annual 200-mile bicycle ride. "Both his smile and sense of humor were infectious. This is a sad day for the RFAC family. We've lost one of our own."
Ingrid Bonne-Goggins, who has participated in the RFAC as a rider one year and a crew member another year, added: "Michael could make me laugh hard with just one look, and he always made me feel special, every single time I saw him, whether it was once a week at spin class, or after not having seen him for a couple of years. He had one of those personalities that makes you want to jump up and hug him. He was a true, kind soul and will be greatly missed by anyone whose path he crossed."
Robert Garofalo of Chicago rode the final 100 miles on day two of the 2012 event with Hicks. "The entire time he kept me laughing and smiling with story after story," Garofalo said. "That's how I want to remember himwith a big heart and big smile. He will be missed by a lot of people."
Hicks was the director of client relationships for MotiveQuest, according to his Facebook page.
Hicks was one of eight riders on Team Shaine, captained by Shaine Wynsma, and he fundraised $1,400 for the Ride.
"Every training ride, Michael always had a good story. He was so incredibly charming; he always made everyone laugh," Wynsma said. "On the actual Ride, he often rode with people who seemed to be having a tough ride. Everyone thought that was real cool [of Hicks].
"After the Ride, we kept in touch; he always had great things to say about the Ride and was planning to do it again [in 2013]."
Wynsma, who is HIV-positive, said that he often had conversations with Hicks about the troubles HIV-positive people endure being rejected by HIV-negative people, strictly based on their status. "That always upset him," Wynsma said.
Sean Blay, the Ride For AIDS Coordinator and Development Assistant, said he recalls Hicks' "addictive smile and the way he made everyone laugh."
Wynsma added: "A lot of people liked him … there's sadly just not a lot of information [about his death.]"
A memorial page for Hicks will be set up on the RFAC website, and donations will be accepted in Hicks' honor. Plus, the website will include a prominent photo of Hicks "to show our support, both to his family, and in his memory," Cordova said.
The Michael Hicks Memorial Reception and Life Celebration is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 13, from noon to 3 p.m., at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., in the Irving Harris Family Foundation Reception Hall (3rd Floor). Organizers asked all to bring a sense of humor and a funny story to share.