Campus groups pledge support for AIDS Walk Philly

Student organizations on Main Campus are fundraising for AIDS Walk Philly Oct. 17.

With the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s estimate that 30,000 people in Greater Philadelphia live with HIV/AIDs, many prepare to take to the streets on Oct. 17 at 7:30 a.m., for the 24th annual AIDS Walk Philly.

AIDS Walk Philly is the biggest fundraising and awareness events for HIV/AIDS in the Delaware Valley. According to the organization’s website, all the money collected goes to partner organizations that provide HIV education and care services.

The 12-mile walk starts and ends at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. At 8 a.m., participants can run a 5K race. A $45 registration donation is required to participate.

Meanwhile, student groups are also getting ready for this year’s walk.

“This is my first year participating in the AIDS Walk Philly, and I can’t wait to see how many people participate because I heard it’s a huge event,” said Nina Melito, president of Temple Queer Student Union.

“QSU is an advocacy group for queer students at Temple University, and I think it’s a no-brainer for QSU to want to participate and help the community,” Melito, a sophomore biology major, said.

As reported by AIDS Walk Philly, Philadelphians are being infected by HIV/AIDS five times more than the national average. The walk is not only dedicated to collecting funds to help people with these diseases, but also to raise public awareness of the pandemic.

“My uncle passed away when I was younger due to AIDS, so this event means a lot to me, and I’m glad that I can share this experience with QSU,” Melito said.

TempleUnited, a Christian organization that reaches out to students to help them keep up their faith throughout college, will also be participating in the 2010 walk for its first time.

“One of our members had heard about the AIDS Walk and told us that we should try and participate this year. We went to our pastors, and they thought it was an excellent idea,” TempleUnited President Daniel Choi said.

“TempleUnited wants to serve people and be a blessing to our community,” said Choi, a junior secondary social-studies education major. “We can do that by participating in events like the Philly AIDS Walk. God blesses us to be a blessing to others.”

Panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which dedicates a panel to a person who has lost his/her life due to AIDS, will be displayed at the walk this year. The quilt is “the largest ongoing community arts project in the world,” according to AIDSquilt.org.

According to a press release, AIDS Walk Philly raised $33,000 during its first walk, which had approximately 300 participants.

“We’re going to try and collect at least $45 a person, and we’ll ask our families for support,” Melito said.

AIDS Walk Philly has accumulated more than $14.6 million for HIV/AIDS public awareness, prevention and care services for people with HIV.

“Raising awareness is important. I didn’t realize how many people in our area are affected by HIV/AIDS,” Choi said. “We want to help, and we will be having a donation box for all who would like to contribute.”

“We’re going to be letting other churches know of our involvement and will be collecting donations from them, as well as participants for our team. Anyone is welcome to join,” Choi added. “The AIDS walk, to me, stands for awareness, and we should really try and get more students at Temple involved.”

Alyssa Saylor can be reached at alyssa.saylor@temple.edu.

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