Preview: Philadelphia AIDS Walk

By Melanie Greenberg
October 12, 2011

Over 30,000 people in the Delaware Valley are living with HIV/AIDS. Oct. 16 marks the 25-year anniversary of the Aids Walk Run Philly, presented by Merck. Doubling as a walk-a-thon and 5K Run, the walk is annually held on the third Sunday in October.

Beginning on the steps of the Art Museum, walkers take Kelly Drive and end on Martin Luther King Drive. The 8.4-mile walk takes between two and three hours to finish. Runners begin at 8 a.m. and opening ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. Before the walk actually begins at 9 a.m., there are warm-ups, including yoga sessions.

For those who may get tired throughout the course of the walk, there are pit stops with portable restrooms as well as poop-out buses. The poop-out buses travel along the route and pick up tired walkers.

One in five Americans infected with HIV don’t know it. Nearly 15,000 people will join the fight to raise money for HIV prevention education, public awareness and HIV care services in the Greater Philadelphia region.

The 25th Annual AIDS Walk Philly will be co-hosted by “Project Runway” season eight runner-up, Mondo Guerra. Guerra, known for his colorful and wacky designs spoke about being HIV positive for the first time during his time on the show and even created a pattern reflecting his status as HIV positive. Since speaking on the show, he continues to speak at events sharing his story of life with HIV.

Mondo joins “Project Runway” alum Jack Mackenroth on Living Positive by Design, which encourages people with the disease to maintain a positive outlook on life while effectively working with their doctors to manage their disease.

For walkers who raise a minimum of $45 in donations, a t-shirt is awarded. Those who raise over $500 in donations receive hooded sweatshirts.

Since 1987, thousands of fundraising walkers have gathered each year to participate in the region’s largest annual HIV/AIDS public awareness and fundraising event. The first year raised $33,000 with Philadelphia’s gay and lesbian community center, Penguin’s Place, organizing the walk.

The AIDS Fund supports HIV/AIDS education, prevention and services in the Delaware Valley Region by raising dollars and increasing public awareness about the impact of HIV on our communities.

AIDS Fund produced a series of videos to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in Philadelphia and the U.S., featuring community members living with HIV and/or providing critical HIV/AIDS services in the Delaware Valley. “AIDS in Philly: AIDS Fund Responds” serves as an introduction to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Philadelphia and explores how AIDS Fund is working to raise awareness and funding for local HIV/AIDS service organizations.

Free rapid HIV tests will be provided on-site and will take 20 minutes to inform participants of their status.

Beyond the walk, the 30 partner organizations also hold GayBINGO!, Black-tie GayBINGO! and Workplace Giving Campaigns. Each year, on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, AIDS Fund holds an event to remember those we have lost to the AIDS epidemic and honoring those still living with HIV/AIDS.

To learn more about how to participate in the AIDS Walk Philly event on Oct. 16, go to To join Cabrini College’s team, search number 4299 and register as a walker.

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Melanie Greenberg

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