By Cailan Yu ’16
Cheerful Key Club members participated in the 30th annual AIDS walk on March 17, 2015 at Central Park. This walk made it possible for the organization, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, to provide help to over 9,000 people impacted by AIDS in New York City and to stop the spread of new infections.
Meeting early in the morning at Central Park, members from Key Club walked for about three tiring hours. The walk wound up the west side of Central Park and worked its way down Riverside Drive. It was a demanding 6.2 miles, but overall members thought that the walk was rewarding despite the burning heat from the sun.
“The atmosphere of the walk was extremely welcoming,” said Lauren Ruocco ’17. “Everyone was pumped and willing to walk for a cause.”
Raymond Yu ’15 said, “I really enjoyed the refreshments that were provided. It helped me cool down since I felt overwhelmed by the sun that day.”
The walk began at registration tables where groups signed in. Many other Key Club organizations from Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, and Stuyvesant also joined the walk.
“A lot of well known stores such as McDonald’s and Ralph Lauren also joined the walk. They donated large sums of money to help find a cure for AIDS which I think is really charitable of them,” said Ruocco.
Key Club didn’t raise funds for the walk, but the members put in a great amount of sweat and effort. In total, the walk generated a considerable amount of $4.88 million, which was donated by various groups from all over the tri-state area. Popular stores such as MAC cosmetics, Macys, and Kenneth Cole donated over $100,000 to support the walk.
At the finish line, walkers were greeted by the encouraging cheers and the joyful smiles of volunteers. A sense of accomplishment and relief washed over the Key Club members.
The biggest misconception that people have about HIV and AIDS is that only homosexual people acquire it. However, it affects far more people than that. Anyone can get HIV or AIDS simply through blood, breast milk, or sexual intercourse. Jeraya Kelly ’17, a member of Key Club, has participated in the walks for three years. She fondly recalled previous walks she attended.
“This year, there was definitely more walkers compared to the previous years that I attended. Also, more money was raised which I believe will benefit even more people who are struggling with AIDS,” said Kelly.