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May 25, 2002

I Walk Because...

Story by Al Amir Jordan & Adam Hassan
Photos by Al Amir Jordan


It was about 8:30 in the morning and you could see it all from the 59th street train station. It was a cold morning -- skin-shivering, bones creaking, see-your-breathe cold -- and they -- vibrant, vehement, enthused souls -- came in droves to partake in the world’s largest AIDS fundraiser. On May 19, 2002, our city’s streets held the 17th annual AIDS Walk New York with more than 40,000 people, diverse as the city itself, walking in support of the cure to this international epidemic.

AIDS Walk New York has been a vanguard in the fight against AIDS for nearly two decades. In the past 16 years, it’s raised nearly 70 million dollars, as most of the money raised goes to the GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis), the nation's oldest and most comprehensive AIDS Service organization. Portions of the aggregate proceeds from AIDS Walk go to 60 other AIDS programs in New York City, as well.

Interestingly enough, for so great of a cause, the effort needed to walk in the event is relatively simple. The walk is easy as it extends through Central Park and concludes on the Upper West Side. Throughout it, there are tons of checkpoints with light food and water donated by Fuji. Concerts are thrown for event goers before and after the event, with performers like Patti LaBelle and Stephanie Mills. At the culmination of the journey, there is an array of colorful balloons juxtaposed by supporters warming you with a round of applause. The overall event itself is a feel-good display of social engagement and heart.

Most of the people interviewed at the event preferred to not include their names, but still had interesting things to contribute to this article. Asked why they decided to walk, they all said in one way or another that it was “just a good thing to do.” Brandeis High School’s Gay and Lesbian Club President commented, “I walk for my mother. I walk for my two cousins. I walk for all the kids my age that have AIDS.” He also said in the course of this conversation that he gave money to the walk, to other organizations, and to the benefit of children he knows with AIDS. He concludes, “I walk because it is the right thing to do.”

Nevertheless, despite the general consensus of morality and its apparent splendor within the walk, there is still a bottom line to be met: money. Although the significance of Walk participants is touching, it is the fiscal power behind them, contributed with every step they take, that provides the potential to truly change or impact any anti-AIDS movement. A member of St. Ann Holy Trinity’s Appeasable Church who’s participated in the AIDS Walk for the fourth time agrees. Asked if whether the walk really helps the fight against AIDS, she replies, “Money helps.”

To Find Out More Info, Check Out These Links...
AIDS Walk New York


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