Kelly Drive teemed with thousands upon thousands of people this past Sunday morning, all in search of a cure for AIDS.
The 13th annual Philadelphia AIDS walk managed to draw a larger response than last year. According to Susan Higgenbotham, executive director of the AIDS Fund, an estimated 30,000 people made the trek on Sunday, a 5% increase from last year.
“As of Sunday, we collected $850,000 from walkers,” Higgenbotham said. “But experience shows us that people turn in tens of thousands of dollars after the walk is over, so we won’t really know until the end of the year.”
The walk route is 8.4 miles through Fairmount Park. It is a loop beginning at Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum, heading down Kelly Drive to the Falls Bridge, crossing the Schyuckill River, and heading back east down West River Drive, ending at the beginning. It is a grueling hike and many walkers said they’d be soaking in the tub for hours afterwards. However, the route is lined with water stops, first aid tables, and “poop-out buses” run through periodically to give a lift to those who are in need of it. Additionally, performances by musicians, dancers, jugglers, and the like, as well as a post-walk picnic ensure that everybody who participates has a fun time, no matter how much Icy-Hot they need afterwards.
The AIDS walk is organized through the Philadelphia AIDS Fund, who raises money to distribute amongst 44 local beneficiaries that help in the fight against AIDS. Among this year’s recipients are Planned Parenthood, shelters like the Keystone Hospice, and MANNA, which provides meals and nutritional education to those suffering from HIV or AIDS.