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Organizers of AIDS Walk Detroit recently announced their decision to cancel this year’s walk. Organizers say the large amount of construction that has overtaken downtown Royal Oak would make the walk difficult if not impossible.
“As a result of the development construction taking place in downtown Royal Oak and the limited timeframe we had to plan for an alternative location, we decided to cancel this year’s event,” said AIDS Walk Detroit President Teresa Roscoe. “We wanted to be certain that the execution of the 2018 AIDS Walk Detroit was at the highest level for participants, agency partners, corporate sponsors and the overall brand itself.”
Roscoe said it was in late May when a contact at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market, where the walk usually begins and ends, alerted organizers that construction was beginning in the area where the walk was traditionally held.
“We received confirmations that the site was affected and would not be available from the Royal Oak Police Department in early June,” said Roscoe. “The Royal Oak Police Department assisted us with contacts at the school district in an attempt to find a suitable location. We also explored numerous options in surrounding communities and downtown. Unfortunately there was not another site available on or around the fall walk date that would suit the logistical needs of the event.”
Though plans are already in the works to revive the walk in 2019, Roscoe said the walk will not return to Royal Oak.
“Royal Oak has been a wonderful home for the walk since 1991,” she said. “We are exploring moving the event to Detroit next year for several reasons. The HIV epidemic in Michigan today most heavily impacts people who live in the City of Detroit. That makes a Detroit location very relevant in 2019. There has also been a great deal of excitement expressed by partner agencies, sponsors and walkers about the potential to bring new attention and enthusiasm to the cause by moving into the city.”
Roscoe at her team are currently completing permit requests and plan to submit them in September, “which is the earliest we are able to apply for an event in the fall of 2019. We are also planning to meet with appropriate city departments to discuss the event and the addition of a 5K run, which requires additional logistics and approvals.”
Nine partner agencies raised funds through AIDS Walk Detroit in 2017 totaling $46,721.31. The largest amount was raised by HELP, the organization that produces the walk, at $31,310. The second and third highest were Affirmations and Unified with $4,882 and $3,331 respectively. The AIDS Walk Detroit website is still available for partner agencies to utilize. Although this year’s walk has canceled, anyone who wishes to contribute to support partner agencies may do so through Oct. 31, 2018. Any funds designated for partner agencies will be directed to them in early December.
Lilianna Reyes, interim executive director of Affirmations, said her agency will miss the money they traditionally receive from the walk this year.
“We’re definitely going to see a little deficiency because of it,” she said. “It’s going to hit us a little bit but it shouldn’t affect us too bad.”
Reyes said she is happy the walk will be moving to Detroit.
“We are looking forward to working with Corktown Health and HELP next year,” she said. “We’re really excited that they’re talking about moving it to Detroit because it’s AIDS Walk Detroit and that’s where it should be.”