By Ken MacDonald
The AIDS Walk for Life has been a fixture in the calendar of our supporters for years. The Walk is the single largest fundraising event at HIV Edmonton, but also one of our major engagement opportunities within the broader community. For many people, the AIDS Walk for Life is what they are most familiar with in terms of their exposure to the organization. Over the years, the Walk has evolved in format and location but I believe the most recent incarnation has created a unique opportunity to celebrate the work of the agency, as well as raise much needed dollars. With much of HIV Edmonton’s budget tied to grants and the specific outcomes associated with that funding, the Walk gives us the flexibility to fund operations that we would otherwise not have the capacity to support.
What I am always amazed by is the vast array of individuals and organizations that come out to support the agency through the Walk – from the retail groups, to unions, community and church organizations as well as members and organizations within the LGBTQ community, most notably, The Imperial Sovereign Court of the Wild Rose. Participants include families, students, clients of the agency and those that just want to show their support. I would like to make special mention of MP Laurie Hawn, who has participated in the Walk for the past several years and has been oneof our top individual fundraisers, generating thousands of dollars in support for HIV Edmonton.
Along with those that participate in the Walk, the event also relies on the support of sponsors, who through direct in-kind support help make the event happen. We have been fortunate to have several groups and organizations come forward to help fundraise for this year’s event and their support is incredibly appreciated. A big thank you to Fruit Loop and their partnership at the Walk, allowing us to create an even bigger event this year!
Despite some challenges, we were fortunate to raise over $65,000 including cash sponsorship, which will help to support the local operations of HIV Edmonton. A special thanks to the top walkers, James Mabey, Laura Keegan and Kristina Marvin.
With all of the strides that have been made in the treatment of HIV and the work being done to assist with prevention, it may seem like there is less of a need for HIV services in Alberta. The reality; however, is that the need is as great as ever. The demand for the services provided by HIV Edmonton continues to increase and our resources are stretched to meet that demand. The Walk is an essential part of supporting the work of HIV Edmonton. On behalf of the Board and Agency, I would like to thank everyone who supported and participated in the Walk this year, helping us to achieve our vision of Zero new HIV infections, Zero stigma and discrimination and Zero AIDS-related deaths.