AP NEWS

Charity bike benefits Planned Parenthood of South Texas

April 3, 2019

BROWNSVILLE - On Sunday, 80-year old Gene Novogrodsky, women’s rights champion and activist, will embark on a 90-mile bike ride from his home in Brownsville to Rio Grande City. The ride is to support Planned Parenthood of South Texas (PPST), also celebrating it 80th anniversary this year.

According to Stephanie Dominguez, community engagement manager for PPST, “‘Gene’s Ride’ highlights the many women who have to travel for their health care.” Dominguez continued, “If we don’t care about the state of health care in the Rio Grande Valley, even more rights will be taken away.”

Sunday’s bike ride, dubbed The Ride for Health and Justice, supports Planned Parenthood health centers in Brownsville and Harlingen, offering health care services to more than 3,500 women, men and teens. The PPST Centers offer life-saving cervical cancer screening and treatment, birth control, PAP and breast exams, STI testing and prevention, male exams and health education.

In the Rio Grande Valley, many of Planned Parenthood’s patients live at, or below, 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, qualifying them for medical services on the agency’s sliding-fee scale.

There are 113 malignant strains of HPV in the Rio Grand Valley, Dominguez stressed, “and many women can’t take time off from work or have childcare concerns, so they delay their own treatment. By the time many women are able to come to the centers for their own medical care, many times, their prognosis is worse,” she says, “because they took care of someone else’s needs.”

Novogrodsky, a writer, teacher, and activist states, “Planned Parenthood has helped so many people. The health care they provide saves lives.” He continued “ but we also have to think about how things like immigration policies and attacks on our communities affect people’s ability to get the health care they need.”

The 30-year resident of Brownsville and his wife, Ruth, a retired nurse, have both dedicated their lives to raising awareness of the systematic injustices that impact the well-being of their community. Four years ago, Novogrodsky rode his bike from Brownsville to San Antonio in the Ride for Reproductive Rights, to raise awareness for women’s reproductive health care, especially abortion care.

Planned Parenthood estimates the values of charity health care in 2019 will exceed $750,000. Dominguez emphasizes the ever-increasing need, especially in light of the current policies of the Trump administration, “Now, more than ever, we need the support of people in our local community, so we can continue to provide access to health care in the Rio Grande Valley to low- and middle-income families.”

To donate to the event, “In This Together: Riding for Health & Justice,” aka “Gene’s Ride”, supporters can visit the PPST website: www.ppsouthtexas.org and/or also pledge an amount per mile that Novogrodsky completes.

sgroves@brownsvilleherald.com