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AIDS Walk Detroit surges on

By | 2010-09-23T09:00:00-04:00 September 23rd, 2010|News|

by Jessica Carreras

Ferndale-based Lincoln High School currently leads the AIDS Walk High School Challenge with close to $1,000 raised. The school that raises the most funds will be rewarded with a free dance, hosted by radio station AMP 98.7. BTL photos by Jessica Carreras

ROYAL OAK –
Though the weather was predicted to be rainy, the sun once again came out for the annual AIDS Walk Detroit, which took place Sept. 19 in downtown Royal Oak.
Thousands of people gathered at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market to ready for the 5K walk, to watch pieces from the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt be unfolded, and to remember loved ones lost to HIV/AIDS. Over 90 teams walked, raising over $100,000 for Steppin’ Out – and counting. It’s money that will all go back toward metro Detroit HIV/AIDS organizations, promised Steppin’ Out Board President Bill Thomas, owner of Royal Oak restaurant Pronto!
“It takes a lot of people to put this walk on, and for all of you who have been participating, the money that’s raised stays right here in metro Detroit,” he told participants at the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market, where the walk begins and ends each year. “I want to thank you, from the board of directors of Steppin’ Out. It goes to people who need food, medicine, clothing, shelter – it’s really, really important that you participate today.”
Royal Oak Mayor Jim Ellison and Ferndale Mayor Craig Covey made their usual appearance at the event, with Covey making a special plug for the upcoming elections. The longtime Ferndale politician is making a run for a seat on the Oakland County Commission, on which he would represent the 25th District, which includes Ferndale, Hazel Park and parts of Royal Oak.
“We appreciate you being here, we’re glad that you’re here, and after you’re done walking, there’s one more thing you’ve gotta do if you want to keep fighting HIV/AIDS: I need you to vote on Nov. 2,” Covey implored the walkers. “If you can vote, please vote.”
Unable to vote, but certainly able and willing to help the cause of HIV/AIDS, were hundreds of teens from a myriad of local high schools, including Grosse Pointe North, Lincoln High, North Farmington High and Ferndale’s Franklin High School, which had raised close to $900 at last count. The school with the most money raised by the Oct. 20 deadline will win a free dance at their school, sponsored by AMP 98.7, which provided a live DJ for AIDS Walk Detroit.
According to Thomas, this year’s student participation set an AIDS Walk record. “This year, we have had more high school teams than ever in the history of Steppin’ Out and AIDS Walk Detroit,” he said, drawing large cheers from the teens. “You guys rock it out.”
But beyond the energy of youth, the Extra Mile Club honored three participants who serve as an inspiration to other fundraisers. This year, walkers raising over $1,000 as of Sunday’s count included Ron Northrop, who raised $3,580; Frank D’Amore, who raised $7,600; and David Agius, who single-handedly raised an astounding $13,000 for AIDS Walk Detroit.
Teams raising over $10,000 each included Affirmations, Dignity Detroit and Health Emergency Lifeline Programs.
But the numbers that truly matter, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin reminded participants, were numbers of infections, and of deaths due to HIV/AIDS. Those, he pointed out, serve as a sobering reminder that the disease is still a killer – even in America.
“As we celebrate some successes – we’ve seen a reduction in the amount of infections of AIDS – we also have a long way to go, and that’s the reason you’re here today,” said Levin, a longtime supporter of both LGBT and HIV/AIDS causes. “We have a million or more Americans with HIV/AIDS. Perhaps 20 percent of them don’t even know they have it, which is an addition to that tragedy.”
Levin recapped the past year’s federal policy gains in the arena of HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, which included the reauthorization of the Ryan White CARE Act and the end of the national policy that prohibited the travel of HIV-positive people into the country.
But the true measure of success, noted Levin, will come when there is no need for funding or AIDS walks at all. “As we look forward … to coming out every year to support your great effort – and this is a great day when we come together to do that – we also look forward to the day when we no longer have to march to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS,” he said. “You are bringing that date closer by marching today.”
To keep track of the total number of funds raised at the 2010 AIDS Walk Detroit, or to make a donation by the Oct. 20 deadline, visit {URLwww.aidswalkdetroit.org}.

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BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.