AIDS Walk Raises Awareness

 By Anna Ng’15 and Samar Syeda’15

 

Walking for a cure, people all around New York City came to Central Park to support people with AIDS. The 2014 AIDS Walk brought people together for a great cause.

“The turnout this year is great,” said Rida Waheed, a

walker in the AIDS Walk. “People might not realize that they are making a huge impact on this cause by attending the walk.”

The first 10-kilometer AIDS Walk New York, created by Craig R. Miller, took place on May 18, 1986. It began as a way to help raise funds for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), the world’s first AIDS service organization, to research ways to prevent AIDS. The GMHC was looking for ways to gather people and the government to fight in the battle against the deadly disease. The annual walk has been raising millions of dollars to battle against AIDS since it first began.

“I decided to participate in the AIDS Walk to support an important and well-known cause,” said Ronnie Li ‘14.

The 2014 AIDS Walk was held on May 18, 2014. About 35,000 people came to the 10-kilometer long walkathon. Many organizations and sponsors gathered to support the walk including LaGuardia High School Key Club, Duane Reade, Target, and many more. Together, all these organizations raised 5.1 million dollars.

“It’s amazing to see how many people can come together to support a cause,” said Neshma Simon’16.

Many people got up early on a Sunday morning to participate in the walk. There were people with their friends, children, and pets. Most of them shared one goal that day— to complete the walk and help bring AIDS awareness.

“You could just feel everyone’s eagerness to begin as they crowded around the entrance at the beginning of the walk,” said Li ’14.

The walk started at 10 a.m. and lasted for about three hours. There were four checkpoints during the walk, which were rest stops filled with refreshments such as granola bars, ice tea, bottles of water, fresh sliced apples, pita chips, Doritos, pretzels, and orange juice.

“I remember the mobs of people fighting to get free chips and orange juice,” said Amy Feng’15.

Cheerleaders, the orchestra, and School of Rock were present to help encourage and motivate participants at each checkpoint to complete the walk. Volunteers helped distribute refreshments to walkers.

“This might seem like a tiring thing to do,” said Katrina Bakhl’15. “But with the beautiful scenery of Central Park and the nice spring weather, the walk seemed like a nice stroll in the park rather than a big walk.”

At the second half of the walk, the crowds of people were heading back towards Central Park. Many stopped for a rest stop while others continued to eagerly complete the walk. At that time, many available garbage bags were full of empty snack bags and water bottles.

“Towards the second half of the walk, I was eager to finish it,” said Kieying Li ’15. “I was a few more miles away from the finish line and I wasn’t about to give up.”

At the end of the walk, people received certificates of completion and gathered around for pictures.Free ice cream and more beverages were distributed to participants. There were also two large posters signed by people to write brief comments and supportive quotes to AIDS victims. Many people just stayed at Central Park after the walk to relax and rest.

“If anything, participating in the AIDS walk reinforced my belief in supporting community and volunteer events,” said Li ‘14. “No matter how insignificant you might feel in making a difference, efforts build up and eventually bring about change.”

Even though the walk ended, participants can still raise money for the AIDS walk for a chance to earn fund-raising awards. Some of the prizes include a free t-shirt, a COMMUNITY cap, and a signature AIDS walk watch.

“I will be fund-raising for the walk because it can help us fight and prevent AIDS and I can earn a little reward myself for doing so,” said Lily Li, a participant in the walk.

The AIDS walk did not just help support a big cause. It also helped many people learn something from this experience and gain a lot of knowledge about the importance of supporting walks. People also took the walk as an opportunity to do something positive and enjoyable at the same time.

“As cliché as this sounds, change doesn’t just happen out of nowhere, all it takes is one person’s efforts to start it,” said Lily Li ‘15. “If we all gained the courage to support different causes or start organizations, we can all make a difference in the world.”

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