Making a Difference Is a Walk in the Park
Show Your Support for the Minnesota AIDS Walk
For 22 years, the Minnesota AIDS Walk has brought awareness, provided education, and created a sense of community in the Twin Cities. As well, it has raised important funds for the HIV/AIDS cause. What started as a grassroots pledge walk has evolved into one of Minnesota’s top 25 fundraisers. The Minnesota AIDS Project (MAP) is mounting its 23rd Walk on May 16 in Minnehaha Park Minneapolis.
One of the goals of the Walk is to reduce stigma about HIV/AIDS. That was especially true in early events, when the fear of literally “catching” the disease was present. During past Walks, organizers had a very real fear of violence breaking out because of people’s fear and ignorance of the disease.
According to MAP Director of Communications Dave Folkens, the Walk has helped reduce this perception, but more work remains to be done.
Folkens says, “People living with HIV may run into cases of friends and coworkers who become distant after revealing their status. There is also certainly stigma around HIV in terms of dating and relationships, which can be extremely difficult for some living with the disease.”
A lot has changed in the past 22 years. Today’s generation hasn’t experienced what those in the 1980s did—uncertainty of the disease and lack of medicines.
MAP Special Events Manager David Knapp notes that “online hookups” recently have become popular in today’s generation, which makes education that much more important.
Knapp points out an increase in cases of Minnesotans who are HIV-positive—more than 6,200 known, plus another 2,500 estimated but not yet tested.
In 2009, the Walk raised more than a half-million dollars, with more than 5,000 attendees. The money goes to support MAP’s prevention, education, and advocacy efforts, as well as critical services for those living with HIV/AIDS. PrideAlive and Public Policy programs rely on Walk donations. A significant portion of Positive Link, Legal Services, and Education Bureau budgets are covered by Walk funds.
The opening ceremony for the Walk is at 10 AM. A little more than six miles long, it takes roughly two-and-a-half hours to complete. The four-mile Run for the Ribbon starts at 9 AM.
All ages and pets are encouraged to attend this event to celebrate life and give hope to the community. If you haven’t signed up yet, or have questions about this year’s Walk, visit www.mnaidswalk.org.
Folkens remarks, “It’s easy to sign up, and raise funds to support the over 6,600 Minnesotans living with HIV, and help the Minnesota AIDS Project provide important education to prevent HIV. It really is a great day filled with education, excitement, [and] hope.”