Gary Graves teaches AIDS awareness with Chippy the Cheetah – Serving the Fullerton community since 1922

Fullerton College Business and Marketing Professor Gary Graves was recently recognized for his new children’s book which draws attention to AIDS and HIV awareness, LGBTQ + themes and community engagement in general for the good of all .

“Chippy the Cheetah Rides 545 Miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles” tells the story of a young anthropomorphic cheetah who, while learning to take care of his community, takes part in a bike ride to raise funds which will go to the AIDS prevention, education and support. The same that Graves has been involved with for the past 10 years.

The book emphasizes the importance of teamwork, determination and charity in bringing together diverse and peaceful communities. In this case, it aims to help end the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS: an issue that has plagued LGBTQ + communities for years.

The cover of “Chippy the Cheetah Rides 545 Miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles” features Chippy high-fiveing ​​another rider as he rides the AIDS / LifeCycle. Photo credit: Gary Graves

Chippy has two fathers, a reference to Graves and her husband.

“Chippy the cheetah is treated a bit like my son. He takes a bike, we fundraise, and we participate in AIDS / LifeCycle. And so there aren’t too many details, but, you know, it’s a 40 page book, and you hit some roadblocks. It ends up being just a lovely, heartfelt story that I think my nieces and nephews and other kids would love to read, ”Graves said.

AIDS / LifeCyle has been a big part of Graves’ life. The ride required cyclists to raise at least $ 3,000 to participate, and Gary has consistently raised an average of $ 10,000 per year.

The COVID-19 pandemic was the final blow for Graves to finally publish his first children’s book. An idea that has been in the works for 10 years, while participating in AIDS / LifeCycle. The editing process alone took him eight years. He even describes his first notes for the story as being taken on a voice recorder while being stopped at rest stops.

“When you go on a seven day hike, where you walk about 90 miles on average, every day you have a lot of time to think, because you are not allowed to listen to music, you are not allowed to ride side by side with people, ”Graves said. “You are not alone, but you do your own thing.”

Graves attended the Zoom interview with the cover of

Graves attended the Zoom interview with the cover of “Chippy the Cheetah Rides 545 Miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles” as the background. Photo credit: Jocelyn Rabadan

Writing a children’s book was Graves’ solution to fundraising for charity with his current professional life in mind. He mentioned having trouble finding relationships as an educator.

“But as you teach and move away from professional life to college life, you start to lose your contacts. I no longer have clients like I used to. And so, you have to do creative things to raise money, ”Graves said. “And, you know, like any nonprofit, money is really what it is. They are there to help people, but it takes money to do it. And so, it also becomes a fun way to achieve my goals.

Besides young children, Graves brings his message of charity and community building to the classroom.

“I’m part of the AIDS / LifeCycle community, I’m part of the Fullerton community, the business community, the college community. I interact with my students. You want to stay engaged, you want to get involved, and you want to stay in touch to make sure that when you recognize that people need help, what can you do? And usually it’s just a conversation, you know. Usually it’s just a matter of talking to someone to tell them about the problem they’re having, ”he said.

These children's books are longer in pages and teach caring themes with animal protagonists like Graves' one.

These children’s books are longer in pages and teach caring themes with animal protagonists like Graves’ one. Photo credit: Jocelyn Rabadan

A portion of every purchase of “Chippy the Cheetah Rides 545 Miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles” will be donated to the LGBT Center in Los Angeles and the Sans Francisco AIDS Foundation to fund AIDS research, education and treatment.

The business professor is seeking donations to fund his next AIDS / LifeCycle in 2022 via TogetheRide, as COVID-19 has completely halted the 2020 and 2021 rides.

Graves looks forward to further adventures with Chippy the Cheetah and will continue his message of community support.




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