Six thousand people helped raise more than $1 million for the Whitman-Walker Clinic in the 21st annual AIDS Walk Washington Saturday morning.
Profits from the walk go directly to the Whitman-Walker Clinic, a nonprofit center for HIV and AIDS treatment. The clinic offers free HIV testing and medicine for HIV-positive and AIDS-infected community members living in the D.C. and Virginia areas.
“It is an epidemic that needs to be addressed by every person in every city of every race” said Zoe Petkanas, a sophomore and a member of Student Global AIDS Campaign.
Don Blanchon, the director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, said the increase in donations this year can be attributed to broader and more aggressive community outreach, especially to people living with HIV/AIDS and to local universities.
The walk began and ended at Freedom Plaza on 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. More than 500 teams – 75 more than last year – participated in the walk, Fletcher said. Among these, there were 17 GW student organizations that walked as teams.
GW College Democrats, Allied in Pride, the Student Global AIDS Campaign, the Public Health Student Association and the Organization of Latin American Students had the greatest number of participants among teams from GW. The GW College Democrats raised $1,970 – more than any other GW student organization.
The walk’s pre-show featured a rendition of the national anthem by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.
Student leaders held a pre-walk breakfast in Kogan Plaza where the College Democrats gave out free chocolate chip pancakes, muffins and water. About 90 students attended the breakfast.
“I came because one in 20 people in D.C. are HIV positive,” said junior Amy Dorfman, advocacy co-chair for Allied in Pride. “The Whitman-Walker Clinic does a lot of work within the community and on the grassroots level. Not only do they have clinics in Northeast but they also have them in Northwest and Southeast, where the percentage rate of HIV/AIDS is highest.”
D.C. has the nation’s highest concentration of HIV/AIDS – infected citizens per 100,000 people in the United States.
At the walk, former mayor and current councilman, Marion Barry said he said the city plans to “increase the resources for marketing and testing” to work to decrease the prevalence of AIDS in the District.
Last Thursday, the Organization of Latin American Students and the Black Student Union sponsored a benefit show to raise money for the AIDS Walk. Between 80 and 100 people attended the show, which featured performances from eight student organizations. OLAS raised almost $300 from the benefit show, adding to the $1,075 the student organization had raised by the time of the walk.
Sophomore Catherine White performed at the benefit show with the Balance: The GW Ballet Group.
“Sometimes as a college student, it is easy to feel removed from a global epidemic like HIV and AIDS,” White said. “These types of events ensure that GWU and its students will continue to stay involved in the fight against AIDS.”