Seattle’s AIDS Walk reaches 30 years with health for the living and hope for a cure

A 2015 walker (Image: CHS)

A 2015 walker (Image: CHS)

For 30 years in Seattle, people have walked and run to raises money to fight HIV and AIDS. Saturday, the End AIDS Walk will again circle Volunteer Park.

AIDS walks have historically been held to remember those who have lost their lives and to gather as a community, Jeremy Orbe, development coordinator with community health organization and event host Lifelong, told CHS. While the End AIDS Walk Seattle still honors lives that have been lost, education and outreach help prevent new cases and medical advancements make the disease more manageable. People who have HIV or AIDS and are receiving treatment can live healthy lives.

“Folks aren’t necessarily losing their lives. … They’re able to live long and happy and fulfilling lives,” Orbe said.

Because of advancements in treatments, the walk is now more focused on supporting those living with the disease and looking to the future for a cure.

This year in recognition of the 30-year history of the event, the walk and run will include meet and greet with primary care physicians, advocates and others who have been involved with the walk for many years, and the 5K loop will feature markers detailing the history of HIV and AIDS.

The 2016 5K walk and run will be held on September 24. Participants will start and end in Volunteer Park. Dogs and strollers are allowed, and the event is wheelchair accessible. On-site registration begins at 8:30 AM., and is followed by a stage program at 9:30 AM. The run and walk begins at 10 AM. with an after party starting at 10:30 AM. lasting until the mid afternoon. 2016 information can be found at endaidswalk.org.

The afterparty will have family-friendly activities including face painting and lawn games, and adults can imbibe in the beer and mimosa garden. There will also be free HIV testing on site and organizations providing education and outreach.

“It’s going to be a fun time,” Orbe said.

Lifelong expects about 200 runners and 1,300 walkers to participate this year, which is close to the recent average. During the event’s heydays in the mid-2000s, Orbe said the walks typically brought in 2,000 to 3,000 participants.

Walkers and runners raise money in advance of the event through a variety of ways such as bar crawls, garage sales or barbecues, Orbe said. The goal for fundraising this year is $250,000, but that won’t all be reached by the day of the walk. Lifelong accepts post-walk gifts through December.

People can still get involved with the event. Walking is free and running requires a $35 registration. Orbe said there is still time to form teams and fundraise with family and friends, which often makes the event more fun. To register visit endaidswalk.squarespace.com/eventinfo.

Volunteers are still needed for the event as well.

Previously the event was called the Seattle AIDS Walk. In December 2014, Governor Jay Inslee announced the End AIDS Washington campaign, which aims to reduce new HIV infections by 50 percent over five years. Lifelong changed the walk’s name to the End AIDS Walk Seattle in recognition of the campaign and to acknowledge reaching the ultimate goal — finding a cure.

Lifelong, which provides food, housing and health services to people living with HIV or AIDS, can also use volunteers — individuals or groups — throughout the year for other events and programs including people to help with meal prep and grocery and meal delivery. Check out lifelongaidsalliance.org/volunteer for opportunities.

CHS is a community partner with Lifelong and help sponsors the Seattle End AIDS Walk.

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3 thoughts on “Seattle’s AIDS Walk reaches 30 years with health for the living and hope for a cure

  1. I volunteered for this event a few times. The most recent, I was a participant and a volunteer utilizing online pledges without having to actually do the walk. I’d reached a donation level that allowed me to receive the top-tier gift bag for participants. The day of the walk, I was assigned to the booth that handed out the gift bags, among others working this booth was someone from the organization’s accounting department. He was telling us how the funds from these events were misappropriated and that a very low percentage reached the perceived recipients. Can’t confirm or deny validity of his statements, other than being a volunteer/donor, I have no knowledge of the internal operations. I can say there are no readily available transparency statements explaining where the money goes.

    After my volunteer shift finished, I left with my goodie bag and as I was departing, one of the organizers chased after me and yelled for me to “stop” in full view of everyone, grabbed my bag and asked why I was taking it. I explained that I worked and donated, and was on the list for this tier of takeaway — he confirmed and let me go. Needless to say, that was the last time I volunteered or donated to them.

  2. It’s a fun event and while primarily there to raise funds, folks can walk and enjoy it for free. The warm-up is awesome and there is a broad swath of local people with good attitudes out to enjoy themselves. I highly recommend it!!