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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 22, 2006

AIDS walks in two
cities see solid support

Cincinnati--Central and Southwest Ohio both saw AIDS walks on September 16, and each is being hailed a success by organizers.

The fundraising walks have seen diminishing returns in the early part of the decade, which led to AIDS Resource Center Ohio to end their use of AIDS walks in Dayton. Two major catastrophes--the September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina�s destruction of the Gulf Coast--have also siphoned donations away from AIDS service organizations.

This year, however, the Robert J. Fass Memorial Central Ohio AIDS Walk in Columbus and the Walk to End AIDS in Cincinnati showed solid support.

As of the morning of September 20, the Columbus walk showed donations of over $102,000 on their website, www.aidswalkcentralohio.org. That was already $20,000 more than had been raised by the morning of the walk.

The Walk to End AIDS, which was formerly called the Red Ribbon Walk for AIDS, had online donations of $42,000, although AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati�s community investment coordinator Barbara Levine said that she expects the organization to bring in about $100,000 after expenses.

Organizers estimate about 1,500 people turned out to participate in Columbus, and 600 came out to support AVOC in Cincinnati.

While the Walk to End AIDS benefits AVOC, the AIDS Walk Central Ohio divides its money between the Columbus AIDS Task Force, the AIDS taskforces of Delaware and Union counties, Camp Sunrise, Family AIDS Clinic and Education Services, First Love, the Tobias Project, the Ohio AIDS Coalition, Pater Noster House and Project Open Hand-Columbus.

The ten organizations cover a wide variety of demographics and serve the needs of people living with HIV or AIDS. The Tobias Project, for instance, focuses on prevention and education for African American men, while Project Open Hand-Columbus provides food for low-income people with the disease. Camp Sunrise provides a summer experience for youth infected with or affected by HIV.

�We were forced to cap enrollment at 120, and unfortunately had to turn away several applicants,� said Katie McKee, the Camp Sunrise program manager. �The number of children living in families where one or both parents has HIV or AIDS continues to grow, as does the need for a safe, supportive environment like Camp Sunrise.�

According to those working with HIV and people with the virus, one of the major problems facing their organizations today is that, since people are living longer, more productive lives thanks to new medications, it gives the illusion that AIDS is no longer fatal while also requiring services for many years longer than just a decade ago.

That has caused a situation where government funding is flat, meaning no increase from year to year, but each client then gets less money per capita spent on them.

One thing that has increased over the years, however, is the experience and dedication of the people putting together the AIDS walks.

�The committee has mostly been working on the event for over a decade,� Levine said, noting that they had about 100 volunteers on the day of the event.

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