AIDS Walk Boston Draws Over 12,000 Walkers
AIDS Action Committee Hopes to Meet Goal of $1.1 Million
Organizers of today’s 24th annual AIDS Walk Boston stated that as of 10:00AM EST, participants and sponsors had raised approximately $860,000, well on their way to reaching this year’s goal of $1.1 million dollars to benefit AIDS Action Committee (AAC). There are over 12,000 walkers and 600 runners expected to attend today’s AIDS Walk and Larry Kessler 5K Run. Those participants form 400 teams that will walk through the Back Bay, Brookline and Cambridge in a citywide effort to end HIV/AIDS.
AIDS Walk organizers are cautiously optimistic they will meet their goal but admitted this year has been a challenge. Although individual donation amounts were lower than in previous years, organizers saw an uptick in the overall number of donations. With 100 new Walk Teams and aggressive online fundraising efforts, organizers hope the final tally will reach $1.1 million.
“We are honored that so many folks stepped up their efforts to make sure that this event was successful and that those most vulnerable in our community will have access to the vital services and support that they need” said Rebecca Haag, President and CEO of AAC. “There is still time, however, to donate online or through the mail to help us reach our goal. The money raised at the AIDS Walk allows us to continue to provide services to our clients living with HIV/AIDS, and work to prevent the spread of this disease.”
The crowd’s spirits were high as WCVB-TV Channel 5’s David Brown and Rebecca Haag launched the Walk from the Hatch Shell on a 6.2-mile march along Boston’s Esplanade. David Brown served as emcee before running in the Larry Kessler 5K Run. In addition, spoken word artist London Bridgez provided a poetic start to the day with an original piece.
Emerson Miller, an HIV positive Peer Services Coordinator for AAC, led a moment of silence to remember the 27 million lives lost to HIV / AIDS. On behalf of the Walk, Rebecca Haag recognized Jim McDonnel, Captain of the Old South Church Team, who has walked for the last 23 years and has raised close to a quarter million dollars for AIDS Action Committee.
Macy’s Foundation is the Presenting Sponsor of AIDS Walk Boston 2009, and has already committed to continue to support the AIDS Walk for the 25th anniversary in 2010. Bruegger’s Bagels, the Walk’s Principal Sponsor, led a major fundraising effort in over 30 of its bakeries throughout New England, and as of Walk day had collected over $25,000. Additional sponsors of AIDS Walk Boston include EMD Serono, Whole Foods Market, Partners HealthCare, Stop & Shop, TJX Companies, WCVB-TV 5, The Boston Phoenix, Metro Boston, El Planeta and WFNX 101.7.
In the last 24 years, AIDS Walk Boston has raised more than $35 million to support AIDS Action's mission to stop the epidemic by preventing new infections and optimizing the health of those already infected. Over the years, money raised by the AIDS Walk has also supported numerous AIDS-related care and education programs and services.
The AIDS Walk is one of the first and largest fundraising walks in Boston and one of the first in the country. There are approximately 20,000 individuals currently living with HIV/AIDS in the Commonwealth. It is estimated that one-quarter to one-third of them do not know that they are infected and are not in treatment. With a new infection occurring every 12 hours in Massachusetts, AIDS Action Committee uses every opportunity to remind people to get tested, know their status and to support people living with HIV/AIDS to optimize their health.
AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is the state’s leading provider of prevention and wellness services for people vulnerable to HIV infection. It provides services to one in six people in Massachusetts living with an HIV diagnosis. These services include HIV counseling and testing; needle exchange; mental health counseling; housing assistance; and legal services. AIDS Action works to prevent new HIV infections, support those affected by HIV, and tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS by educating the public and health professionals about HIV prevention and care; and advocating for fair and effective HIV/AIDS policy at the city, state, and federal levels. Founded in 1983, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts is New England’s first and largest AIDS service organization. Learn more at www.aac.org.