About 300 GW students put on their walking shoes Saturday morning and braved drizzly conditions to participate in the 15th annual AIDS Walk Washington on the National Mall.
The students comprised the largest team in the five-kilometer event, which drew 10,000 people. Together, the students alone raised more than $5,000 for the Whitman-Walker clinic.
Senior Jason Franklin, chairman of the AIDS Awareness Committee, started to organize the GW team last summer.
“This is our major event of the year,” Franklin said. “It’s the most difficult to plan for because the returning members of the committee need to begin working before school even starts.”
Franklin said about 200 students participated in last year’s walk, and he was surprised by this year’s turnout.
The walkers met at J Street at 7:15 a.m. for registration and check-in. They snacked on bagels and juice, picked up their T-shirts and water bottles before slipping into ponchos, a last-minute provision due to soggy weather. Several GW sororities also participated, including Alpha Epsilon Phi, which also supports the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Foundation.
Other students got involved in various ways.
“I always do the walk in Cleveland, and when I found out about the walk here, I decided to do it,” freshmen Stephanie Fauver said. She also posted flyers on her door in Mitchell Hall to get her friends involved.
“AIDS is a scary disease, and knowing that Washington has the highest rate of AIDS cases in the country, I felt that by walking I could help combat the problem,” freshman Jennifer Mace said.
According to an AIDS Walk Washington press release, one in 20 adults in D.C. have HIV or AIDS.
About 90 percent of money raised will go to the Whitman-Walker Clinic, which services HIV and AIDS patients in the greater D.C. area, Franklin said. The remainder will cover administrative fees of the event.
Although most of the money raised by GW students came from a $20 registration fee, some was in the form of pledges collected by the participants.
The GW walkers departed J Street at 8 a.m. for the National Mall. The walkers began at the Washington Monument, followed the trail up to the Lincoln Memorial, walked to the Capitol Building and ended up at the Washington Monument.
Major sponsors of the event included United Airlines, NBC 4, Starbuck’s Coffee, Fannie Mae and Bristol-Myers Squibb Immunology, which has supported the walk for several years.