The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made an appearance at the Lansing Area AIDS Network AIDS Walk and helped guide walkers on their route through Downtown East Lansing.

Hundreds Walk in Fight Against AIDS in East Lansing

By Todd Heywood

EAST LANSING - Under bright sun, hundreds of people gathered and marched Sunday to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV.

The Lansing Area AIDS Network AIDS Walk started in downtown East Lansing's Valley Court Park, right next to the East Lansing Farmer's Market, and wound through the city. Many of the walkers came from various groups at Michigan State University -- including the Evans Scholars, the National Association of Black Accountants and others.

Jake Distel, executive director of LAAN, said the walk as of Sunday afternoon had raised over $10,000 for the agency. That money, he said, would be used to shore up weaknesses in the state's HIV funding awards.

"It helps primarily with our operational costs," he said, noting state funding caps the administrative costs to be paid by any grant -- prevention or care -- issues by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The state also limits where prevention dollars can be targeted.

"This allows us to expand our prevention efforts beyond the very targeted groups we are funded to work with," he said.

Some of the money will also be used as match funding for smaller grants as well as used to help those living with HIV with various living needs such as housing, food and more.

Despite raising over $10,000 for the agency, Distel said the walk is less about fundraising and more about awareness.

"This was a chance to mobilize the young community," he said. "Most everyone was from the college (Michigan State University)."


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