by Jennifer Coots
The Cabrini team was among the hundreds of thousands of walkers that attended the AIDS Walk held in Philadelphia this Sunday. The weather was summery, reaching a high of 81 degrees as 40 students from Cabrini showed their support by doing everything from rollerblading to biking to powerwalking the entire eight miles, which began and ended at the Eakins Oval at the Art Museum.
There were many representatives from all over the campus community. The walkers consisted of students, staff, parents, sisters, members of the Up With People: A Common Beat play and even someone’s grandmother. There was support from individuals who went to see the play Up With People, who generously donated money to the AIDS Walk table that was set up outside of the Dixon Center on performing nights.
A bicycle built for two, or a two-seater bicycle, was also donated for the second year from the Metropolis Bike shop in Manayunk.
Among the walkers for Cabrini was senior Azeen Keramati, who braved the eight miles and powerwalked the entire way. “There was a tremendous amount of awesome energy flowing during the walk,” Keramati said. “There was a positive vibe for a great cause.”
Campus Minister Mary Laver commented on the overall excitement. “There were people on the expressway honking their horns and waving to us,” Laver said. “There was also a crew team who was rowing in the river to show their support.”
Senior Susan Sipes, who attended the walk for her first time, agreed. “It was very empowering to see so many people out to support this cause,” Sipes said. “It was an eye-opening experience and very moving to see people wearing t-shirts with the names of individuals who died from the virus.”
Although the organizers offered transportation to the walk, some students from Cabrini decided to attend the event separately from Cabrini. Sophomore Pete Ayoub jogged with his ex-girlfriend. “I am happy to see that AIDS is losing some of its stereotype of only striking homosexuals and drug users,” Ayoub said. “There were many people of various cultures that attended. There was a very diverse crowd. It was very uplifting.”
Even though the overall emotional atmosphere of the event was positive and enriching, there were times when a feeling of sadness overcame some people. Before the race began, speakers gathered the walkers to listen to the names of those who unfortunately lost their battle to AIDS in the past year.
“When I looked around through the crowd,” Laver said, “I could see some whose eyes were filling with tears.”
The walk turned out to be a huge success for the Campus Ministry, who managed to raise about $2,000, not counting contributions that have not been submitted yet. Those wishing to show their support for the AIDS Fund can still offer contributions until the end of October in the Campus Ministry office located upstairs in the Widener center.
A tremendous amount of time and energy went into organizing the event. “I would like to thank everyone for the broad amount of support we receive across the entire campus for the walk,” Laver said. “The students who originally did an excellent job were Erin Lally, Elaine Abrams and all the peer educators. They did a terrific job to get the message out to students and faculty to encourage people to support the AIDS Walk and to get as many people involved.”