Florida AIDS Walk Returns
By 9:30 a.m., everyone will be gathered at the beach to get pumped up. Around two hours later, everyone will be back at the same spot, having just completed the Florida AIDS Walk 2012.
It all happens Sunday, May 20 at South Beach Park, along the Fort Lauderdale Beach. After the five kilometer walk, walkers and spectators alike will enjoy food and entertainment, all while enjoying the beach.
"I think it’s going to be a really fun afternoon," said Mark Martin, the AIDS Walk’s executive director. "I can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday."
According to Martin, Florida is ground zero for the AIDS epidemic these days. It places first in the nation for new HIV infections and third for the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS. Martin said that out of major metropolitan areas like New York and Chicago, Miami and Fort Lauderdale placed in two of the top five spots for highest rates of infection.
"AIDS is clearly not just a gay disease anymore," he said. "The way to fight the disease is to eliminate its spread. This is where the battle is fought."
This year, the walk will be half its traditional length of 10 kilometers. Walkers will go north on A1A from the beach, make a U-Turn onto a side street, and then come back along the same route. The entertainment stage will be set up as walkers return from their journey. The featured artists this year are CeCe Peniston, Ultra Naté, Joi Cardwell, Jason Walker, Tony Cruz, Michael Tank, and Doug Jackson.
"Being part of an event like this galvanizes the community," Martin said about the walk’s 7th year. "Regardless of their sexual orientation, their gender, their age, the color of their skin, they’re going to be a part of a large community of caring people. It reminds folks who are HIV positive they aren’t alone."
Funds raised at the event will go this year to eight organizations (a doubling of last year’s four), including Broward House, SunServe, Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center, The Pride Center at Equality Park, Latinos Salud, and Minority Development & Empowerment, Inc. The idea behind raising the amount of beneficiaries is trying to ensure that people with HIV are being helped all around.
According to the AIDS Walk’s website, even as little as $25 can make a huge difference: $25 can pay for five people’s bus passes, so that they can access the HIV/AIDS services that they need; $50 can pay for enough medical supplies to administer HIV tests for one month; $100 can pay one month’s worth of laboratory services to process HIV test results; $200 can pay for 15 people to find out their HIV status’.
To find out how you can help or walk, go to www.FloridaAIDSWalk.org.
Sunday, May 20, 9:30 a.m. to around 5 p.m.
South Beach Park