Community unites for AIDS walk

Online Poster

By Winyan Soo Hoo

More than 100 students and residents around the University participated in the 16th annual All Walks of Life Walk for AIDS, held by the Greater Community AIDS Project (GCAP) Sunday morning.

The walk, which began at the Illini Grove, helped raise funds through the participants and their sponsors to support a Champaign transition house for people living with AIDS, financial grants for housing and food and other different health care needs for people in the community with AIDS, according to Georgia King, the Champaign chair of GCAP.

“This (event) was to keep people aware of AIDS,” King said. “There is no cure, there is no vaccine, and only through education you can make a difference.”

Walk participants raised money by either collecting it from others before the walk or donating it from their own pockets.

The participants walked from the Illini Grove, at the corner of Pennsylvania and Lincoln avenues, to the Alma Mater on the corner of Wright and Green streets and back, which is approximately two miles.

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The theme of the walk, “All Walks of Life,” represents how the disease “knows no boundaries,” King said. It represents the different races and diversity found in those who participated in the walk and those who benefit from it.

Robert Glover, a resident in Champaign, said he participated in the walk for six years in a row because he believed in the GCAP organization and its mission. Through the support of friends, family and church members, Glover raised $200 for GCAP.

“I feel that (GCAP) is a very worthwhile organization because most of the money generated for the organization goes to benefit the people they service,” Glover said. “I know people who have HIV and know what they go through, and I do all that I can to help.”

Seven University sororities and fraternities also participated in the walk.

“Students should know more about AIDS – I didn’t know much beforehand,” said Andres Sarmiento, sophomore in ACES and member of Alpha Chi Rho. “There should be more information easily available about AIDS for people walking by, not just information you can find at the library.”

King said GCAP has the mission to educate the public about HIV and AIDS and to address the needs of those affected by the virus and disease. King became involved with GCAP in 1989 after she found out her son was HIV-positive. Her son died from AIDS in 1990. King wants to educate and help other parents with the same devastation of dealing with a child who is HIV-positive or dealing with the loss of a child from AIDS, she said.

To help remember loved ones who died from the disease, people nationwide have sewed quilt panels to represent the individual’s life. King said most families make two three-by-six-foot quilts, one to keep locally and another to send out to San Francisco where it becomes a part of a national AIDS quilt.

When King saw it last, she said the national AIDS quilt was 17 football fields long and has most likely grown since then. Many of the quilts kept locally were draped around the Illini Grove picnic shelter for the duration of the walk. Symbols of people’s lives covered the quilts, including pictures of horses, a bartender, tapestries, rainbows and dresses.

Dale Brashers, a member of the GCAP board of directors, said he felt it was important that students and residents were wearing red ribbons and thinking about HIV throughout the day Sunday.

“This event raises awareness of HIV both in terms of understanding that there are many people still suffering from the disease and that it is still an issue,” Brashers said. “I hope that they realize it is still and issue; there are people living with it, and they deserve our passion and care.”