Toby encourages us all to get up, and get busy helping others — 


Toby has a long history of stepping up to help others.

Energetic and charming, Tobias or Toby, as he likes to be called, has been living at Clare Housing for a number of years now. He first spent time with us at Grace House II after his health took a turn for the worst. After recovering there, he left for a few years before moving eventually into a studio at Clare Apartments.

We’re highlighting Toby because he has spent six years volunteering as crew member for the Red Ribbon Ride! The Red Ribbon Ride is a four day, 300 mile bicycle trek through Minnesota. Each year dozens of riders volunteer their time and raise funds to support the eight beneficiaries, including Clare Housing.

When asked why he does it, Toby says it’s for two reasons. First of all, it’s his way of showing support for the men and women doing such a tremendous physical feat to support people living with HIV like him. The second reason is the profound sense of inspiration he gets seeing other people who are also HIV+ complete a 300 mile bike ride.

“I like to watch riders who are living with HIV do the race for the first time,” Toby says. “The first day is really tough, but when they roll up at the State Capitol it is incredible. They see how strong they are, and how it feels good to be alive. Seeing others living with HIV realize how strong they are makes me feel stronger.”

As a crew member Toby helps out with important logistical support to make sure the riders have the nourishment, hydration and safety they need to complete their journey. In addition to his volunteer work for the ride, Toby also frequently volunteers back home. Up until recently, Toby cooked once a month at Grace House II, the very place where he regained his health so many years ago.

“The people and staff at Grace House helped me the first time I ended up there. It feels good to give back. And it’s nice to talk to the people who live there as well. I understand how they feel and can relate to them in a way that other people cannot,” Toby shared.

When asked where Toby gets his great attitude and his energy for his volunteer work, he explains that sitting down, “Just isn’t me”. He enjoys traveling to see friends and family in North Dakota and greater Minnesota. For fun he enjoys walking the trails and sidewalks around Clare Apartments, and crocheting things for friends. When he does take a break, he enjoys watching Dancing with the Stars, which this past season featured a contestant who, like Toby, is deaf.

Thank you, Toby, for being an inspiration for all of us to get up and get busy helping people! If you feel inspired by Toby’s spirit and dedication to rolling up his sleeves and helping others, please consider making a donation in honor of him and all the other Team Clare members who will be embarking on the Red Ribbon Ride July 21-24!