Thousands Descend on Lakeshore to Walk, Run and Raise Money Toward Ending the AIDS Epidemic and Helping HIV-Positive People Live With Dignity
Annual event raises $375,000 for life-saving HIV/AIDS care, prevention and housing programs.
More than 4,500 Chicago-area residents laced up their running shoes for the 11th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 30. The event raised $375,000 for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and 35 other Chicago-area organizations that provide life-saving services for people living with HIV/AIDS.
“We are so grateful to everyone who participated in this year’s AIDS Run & Walk Chicago and helped take action against HIV/AIDS,” said David Ernesto Munar, president/CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). “It’s a testament to the strength and heart of this city that so many people came here today to make a difference in the lives of others. Chicago walked with us today.”
The opening ceremony at Soldier Field featured remarks by Illinois Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon; LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health; and Bechara Choucair, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Following the ceremony, comedian/actress Wanda Sykes and entertainer Michael Feinstein sounded the starting horns as thousands of excited walkers and runners began the 5K and 10K courses along Chicago’s beautiful lakeshore.
“It’s so much fun…To see all these people out here for the same cause,” said participant Mae Smith, 85, of Glendale Heights. Smith walked in this year’s AIDS Run & Walk Chicago in honor of her son Ron, who died of AIDS 20 years ago.
“There is no cure for AIDS,” said Smith. “But there’s hope.”
Post-race entertainment included electric, inspired performances by Jamar Rogers of NBC’s The Voice and B.E.T.’s YA HEARD new artist competition winner, Adam Emil.
For the first time ever, the AIDS Run & Walk featured “Memory Lane,” the route’s final stretch honoring those lost to AIDS and featuring panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
The AIDS Run & Walk is about raising HIV awareness. AFC offered free rapid HIV testing – made possible by a Chicago Department of Public Health grant – and safer sex kits. AFC’s advocacy team was also working hard, encouraging participants to register to vote and educating them on the significance of health care reform for those with chronic illnesses.
And of course, the AIDS Run & Walk is about raising money for lifesaving HIV services. Since it was established in 2001, the event has netted more than $1.3 million to battle the epidemic. Money raised from this year’s event will benefit AFC and its CommunityDirect partner organizations, which offer HIV services and programs throughout Chicago.
The CommunityDirect partners serving the South Side are Greater Full Gospel Pentecostal Church, Jackson Park Hospital, Making A Daily Effort (M.A.D.E.), Men & Women in Prison Ministries, Project VIDA, South Side Help Center, Christian Community Health Center and the Michael Reese HIV Program.
Those serving the North Side are Asian Human Services, Young Women’s Empowerment Project (YWEP), Chicago Women’s AIDS Projects (CWAP), Chicago House, Test Positive Aware Network (TPAN) and Howard Brown Health Center.
CommunityDirect partners on the West Side include New Age Services, Austin Health Center, Erie Family Health Center, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Vida/SIDA and The Children’s Place Association.
CommunityDirect organizations providing citywide services are Legal Assistance Foundation, Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA), AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, Alexian Brothers AIDS Ministry, HHO/Vital Bridges, The Night Ministry, FCAN, Heartland Human Care Services, Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, PACPI and University of Illinois at Chicago ? COIP.
And finally, AFC is proud to also partner with organizations that serve people in towns and suburbs outside of Chicago: Canticle Ministries, Youth Outlook, Agape Ministries, Catholic Charities of Lake County and Open Door Clinic.
Sponsors of this year’s AIDS Run & Walk Chicago include: Chicago Department of Public Health, OraSure Technologies, Abbott, Exelon, Gilead, Illinois Lottery, Illinois Department of Public Health, Janssen Therapeutics, ViiV Healthcare, American Airlines, Bell Litho, Dunkin Donuts, Marathon Sportswear, O.N.E Coconut Water, PepsiCo, Public Communications Inc., Best Gay Chicago, ChicagoPride.com, GRAB Magazine, Viral PR Agency, WGN-TV, Windy City Media Group, 97.1 FM The Drive, 100.3 FM Chicago’s Rewind, 104.3 FM K-Hits, Vonage and XFINITY.
For more information on how you can support HIV/AIDS research, awareness and support programs in your community visit www.AIDSChicago.org.