The 16th Annual AIDS Walk Washington raised $1.2 million Saturday for the Walker Whitman Clinic. GW was well represented in a sea of thousands that gathered at Freedom Plaza. GW students and others from the D.C. area walked the five miles past national monuments.
“The GWU Physician Assistant Program, with a group of eleven registered walkers, came to join the walk today because we care about people’s health and support AIDS research and treatment,” medical student Tara Villano said.
Healthy Lifestyles, a Mount Vernon living and learning community, had 36 registered walkers. They said they chose to walk to support the fight against AIDS, become active in the community and exercise.
Sororities and fraternities also joined the walk, including 31 members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, which took part in the walk for the third consecutive year. Forty students from the GW School of Public Health walked in support of AIDS research and the clinic.
“We were able to raise over $1,000 with their registration fees,” said GW graduate Sona Patel.
Pledge-master Scott Rapkin brought Sigma Alpha Mu’s pledge class to walk in support of their chosen philanthropic organization, the Elizabeth Glazer Aids Foundation.
“The $20 required to register was the least we could do,” Rapkin said.
Along with the GW community, others in the D.C. area walked Saturday morning. Michael Lohri, 39, infected with the AIDS virus, wore a shirt that said “Positive Walker.” He walked with a group of 12 men called Black and White Men Together.
They had “come together as a group of gay international, multi-cultural men to support their brothers and sisters living with AIDS,” Lohri said.
“HIV doesn’t go away until people make it go away,” said walker Margaret Tacon, “and AIDS research depends on money from private organizations because of the insufficient amount from federal funding.”
Tacon, 45, walked with almost 50 representatives from the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance.
The Whitman Walker Clinic, founded in 1973, sponsored the walk. It is the largest HIV/AIDS clinic in the D.C. area, providing medical and support services to thousands infected with AIDS. It is estimated that one in every 20 adults in the D.C. area is infected with HIV.
D.C. has the highest AIDS rate in the country; 12 times the national average. Every 30 minutes, someone under the age of 25 is infected with HIV, according to walk pamphlets.