The numbers are staggering. An estimated 16.3 million people, including 12.7 million adults and 3.6 million children under the age of 15, have died from AIDS since the epidemic began. Today there are about 33.6 million people of all walks of life living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. HIV infection and AIDS is the second leading cause of death among adults ages 25-44.
The AIDS Walk in Philadelphia was held on Sunday, Oct. 21, in order to raise money for AIDS treatment and education. About 17 Cabrini students, through Community Outreach, were a part of this tremendous support raising about $400 for the cause.
Early Sunday morning students gathered to have their picture taken with the Cavalier before boarding the van to Philadelphia. The walk began at 8 a.m. at Eakins Oval in front of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Walkers completed the 8.5-mile walk in about three hours while students who brought roller-blades finished in about two hours. There was also a one-mile stroller walk for families with children and a 10k run to accommodate supporters with different preferences.
Before the day of the event, students asked faculty, staff, friends and family to donate whatever they could for their efforts. Any contribution was greatly appreciated and desperately needed by the organization. Everyone has their own reasons for doing things like this and Bernadette Hazel, organizer of the Cabrini team, is no exception. “I organized the team for the walk because my uncle died of AIDS last year,” she said. “Everyone seemed to have a pretty good time, but we all came home really tired.” After the walk, pizza was provided back on campus for those who walked for the fight against AIDS.
AIDS Fund, who set up the walk, is an organization in the Philadelphia area that organizes volunteers to raise money in order to provide AIDS and HIV-related services, education and prevention to the community. In 1987, volunteers from Philadelphia’s lesbian and gay community center, Penguin Place, as a walk-a-thon to raise money, established the beginning of the AIDS Walk. Since its start, AIDS Fund is the region’s largest private funder of AIDS service organizations raising more than $8 million. The money raised for AIDS prevention and treatment is seen to be decreasing the trend in AIDS related deaths in the past few years. In Philadelphia in 1999, there were 204 deaths from AIDS reported, down 50 percent from 1997 and 75 percent from 1995. Currently Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among the ten states reporting the highest number of AIDS cases, making the Philadelphia AIDS Walk that much more important. According to Philadelphia Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area, as of 1999 Philadelphia, Pa., Camden County, N.J. and Delaware County, Pa. had the highest number of AIDS cases reported with 12,641, 1,292, and 983 cases respectively.
AIDS Fund provides 38 organizations with funding for programs. Everything from educational classes and presentations to hospital care and shelter for children and families who are inflicted with the disease are provided through various organizations. Organizations are chosen for funding through an annual Request for Proposal process that is highly competitive. To apply for funding, the phone number to call is (215) 731-9255 or an application can be downloaded from www.aidswalkphilly.org.
The Cabrini team raised about $400. This money will be going to very good causes. Every $100 raised will pay for six hours of home health aide service, a week’s supply of medication, four support groups or HIV treatment education workshops, one month of nutritious breakfasts and healthy snacks for preschoolers infected and affected by HIV/AIDS as well as countless other necessities. For every $500 raised, an infected person can be provided with a full battery of diagnostic testing, one full clinic session with an AIDS specialist, or 32 hours of residential personal and nursing care. There is so much more that the AIDS Fund provides, but everyone can be comforted to know that the money raised will go to desperately needed services.
Former Mayor Ed Rendell called the AIDS Walk, “A great cause, a great event that touches the heart.” The walk not only raises money for a great cause, but also creates community compassion and awareness. Going along with the motto of AIDS Fund, until it’s over.walk for a world without AIDS.