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A promenade with a purpose
Walkers raise thousands for AIDS work
Cincinnati--Over two Saturdays, walkers in two cities at opposite corners of Ohio raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to help people with HIV and AIDS.
On September 29, Stop AIDS, the organization formerly known as AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati, held their 18th annual Walk to Stop AIDS at Sawyer Point.
The event raised around $150,000 in total, far exceeding expectations in an age of declining returns on such events.
“Each year when we think it’s going to be difficult to achieve our goals, our walkers and supporters always come through to support the work of Stop AIDS,” said Kathy Nardiello, the event chair. “I couldn’t be happier to have seen such enthusiastic support from our participants and sponsors.”
“I was thrilled to see the diversity of people walking this year,” said Vickie Brooks, executive director of Stop AIDS. “We had more people walking than last year, and our walk certainly reflected the pattern of the AIDS epidemic here locally.”
With three radio and one TV station as presenting sponsors, word about the walk certainly got out to the public, and online donations accounted for over one-third of the money raised, bringing in $56,459 online as of October 10.
That figure was just edged out by the Cleveland AIDS Walk, which raised over $60,000 online for the event held at Wade Oval in University Circle on October 6.
That figure is $12,000 more than was raised online last year, although total donations given on the day of the event and after are not yet totaled.
Cleveland AIDS Walk coordinator David Fearn noted that sponsorships were also up $4,000 from 2006.
This year’s installment was the 17th annual Cleveland AIDS Walk, and the third at University Circle on the east side.
Fearn echoed Brooks’ pleasure at the array of people walking for the cause in their respective cities.
“One of the most gratifying things is to see the diversity of walkers,” he said. “It is especially moving to see the number of young people from all sections of the community display their commitment to the fight against HIV and AIDS with homemade messages on shirts and banners.”
As well as increases in online donations and sponsorships, another important resource saw its levels go up this year.
“In addition to the increase in donations, we are very happy with increase in frontline support,” Fearn said. “We had many more volunteers than in recent years and lots of help from a great team of staff and interns.”
Fearn is exiting on a high note.
“There will be a new team in place for 2008 as I will be wrapping up this month and moving on to new challenges,” he said. “It has been an amazing three years of personal and professional growth and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with many people with big hearts and big talent.”
He also gave a nod to Plexus, the Northeast Ohio LGBT chamber of commerce, and AIDS Walk assistant Julia Sutter for helping to organizing the vendors and volunteers.
While the Walk to Stop AIDS primarily supports the efforts of one agency, Stop AIDS, the Cleveland AIDS Walk divides its revenue between the AIDS Taskforce of Cleveland, the Free Medical Clinic of Cleveland, the Agape Program of the Antioch Development Corporation, the Cleveland LGBT Center, Planned Parenthood, the Women’s Center of Cleveland, Hispanic Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program, the Ohio AIDS Coalition, Community AIDS Network in Akron, and Camp Sunrise.