BY AJ Trager
ROYAL OAK – The 25th Annual AIDS Walk Detroit will be held Sept. 13 at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market located on 11 Mile Road and will include the “Names Project” memorial quilt ceremony, an opening ceremony and presentation and a 5K walk around downtown Royal Oak.
In 1991 a group of Detroit merchants and shop keepers in Royal Oak started AIDS Walk Detroit as a “simple request” to raise money for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. Twenty-five years later the event has evolved to be the largest grassroots HIV/AIDS fundraiser in the state of Michigan and has raised $3.8 million to benefit HIV/AIDS services in the state.
“We do it to help the local community,” said Carissa Rys, development coordinator at AIDS Walk Detroit. “There is still a need for support and to increase education and prevention. We’re still trying to help the local community and help those that are infected and help those that they know who have been infected.”
This year’s event has set a goal of raising $225,000 and mobilizing 3,500 participants. With less than a week to go, the organization has raised $90,000. AIDS Walk Detroit will host a 5K walk that will take participants through downtown Royal Oak, walking down Woodward and Catalpa and finishing back at the Farmer’s Market.
AIDS Walk Detroit will showcase the largest display of panels on the Names Project memorial quilt, showcasing 20 of the thousands of panels that belong to the quilt. Each year the organization shows a different set of panels, and sponsors and volunteers can request specific panels be brought to Detroit.
“It is important as a more solemn part of the day and is a time for people to reflect,” Rys added. “It is really impactful whether it is your first or 25th time seeing it.”
The evening will be emceed by Dr. Partha Nandi, host of the medical lifestyle show “Ask Dr. Nandi.” Nandi practices gastroenterology in Metro Detroit and is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. On his show, Nandi teaches techniques in nutrition, fitness and disease prevention incorporating practices from both Eastern and Western medicine. He has been featured in Crain’s Detroit, TEDx, The Indian Journal, Hour Magazine, CBS Radio and many others.
To sign up for the AIDS Walk Detroit walk visit http://bit.ly/1NYydHw and click on “Join a team.” This year there is a $25 registration fee for all walkers; all participants will receive an official AIDS Walk Detroit 25th Anniversary T-shirt. Registration is open the day of beginning at 8:30 a.m. The quilt ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. followed by the opening ceremony and the 5K at 10:30 a.m.
AIDS Walk Detroit has 13 partner organizations which include: Affirmations, AIDS Partnership Michigan/HIV/AIDS Resource Center, Beaumont Health, Community Health Awareness Group, Deaf C.A.N., Health Emergency Lifeline Programs, Henry Ford Health System, Higher Ground, Horizons Project, Michigan AIDS Coalition, Ruth Ellis Center, Southeast Michigan HIV/AIDS Council/STAR Foundation, Wayne State University Adult HIV/AIDS Program and Wings: PSON.
The event is sponsored by 16 different local and national organizations. Gold sponsors for the walk include Delta Air Lines and Genisys Credit Union. Silver sponsors include Crown Pharmacy, MedCart Specialty Pharmacy, MotorCity Casino and Hotel, Walgreens and Whole Foods Market. Bronze sponsors include Beaumont Health, SEE Eyewear and Starbucks; Copper sponsors include KPMG, Leon and LuLu and St. John Providence. AMP Radio, HOUR Detroit and Between The Lines are media sponsors.