Students, faculty walk to fight AIDS

Students and faculty members joined more than 6,700 people in the 23rd annual AIDS Walk Washington early Saturday morning.

The event, which started at Freedom Plaza at 13th and K streets, shut down K Street as participants walked towards the U.S. Capitol to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS, which studies have shown affects one in 20 adults in D.C.

The walk, which raised more than $770,000 for AIDS programs, drew groups of walkers from several GW Greek-letter organizations, student organizations and even residence halls. Chip Lewis, a spokesperson for the Whitman-Walker Clinic, the HIV/AIDS program which will receive the raised money, said GW participants were an essential part of the walk.

“We love GW. They’ve raised a lot of money and awareness,” Lewis said. “It’s great to see them participating. They bring a lot of energy to the event.”

One of the largest student groups participating, Colonials Fight AIDS, was comprised of approximately 60 students and raised more than $3,000 for the walk, said Callie Freitag, a sophomore and Lafayette Hall house proctor.

“I decided to walk because I’m really into public health,” Freitag said. “I want to help raise awareness because AIDS has lost a lot of public urgency.”

Though groups began arriving as early as 7:30 a.m., energy was high and performers kept the crowd dancing. The D.C. Cowboys, a gay men’s dance group clad in beaters and cowboy hats, performed a dance routine as the walk began at 9 a.m. Techno music blared from the speakers on the main stage where Culture Shock D.C., a hip-hop dance group, performed street routines.

Marsha Lillie-Blanton, a professor of human development in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, walked with her daughter and several students from the school.

“It’s an important cause, it’s a good cause,” Lillie-Blanton said. “I chose to walk because it shows our support.”

Clerisse Lemke, a first-year student in SPHHS, said she decided to walk as a spur-of-the-moment decision.

“I’ve been a student here for one month and I always hear about the AIDS problem,” Lenke said. “It’s important to walk and raise awareness because it’s such a big problem.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.