Students raise money for HIV awareness

Amanda Moore, freshman in LAS, and graduate student Matt Sweeney lead the walk for Africa down Green Street on Saturday. Online Poster

Amanda Moore, freshman in LAS, and graduate student Matt Sweeney lead the walk for Africa down Green Street on Saturday. Online Poster

By Nick Escobar

More than 50 students participated in the second annual Walk For Africa Saturday on the Quad.

The walk, sponsored by the local chapter of Link Community Development (LCD), raised more than $1,000.

The money will directly help to educate people in South Africa, Uganda and Ghana and also to supply the areas with HIV and AIDS preventions programs.

“There’s not much African-American awareness on campus,” said Lindsay Baran, senior in applied life studies and co-president of LCD. “The goal is to raise money, but we want to emphasize that it’s not ‘big brother’ helping ‘little brother.’ It’s not charity; it’s a full cultural exchange.”

The walk began around 1:30 p.m. with participants walking west down Green Street on the Quad. The walkers then turned south on Fourth Street until Gregory Drive and between the Undergraduate Library and the Main Library until it culminated with a walk around the Quad to the English Building. Once there, participants witnessed a performance of traditional music from the African Diaspora, a 300-year-long period during which millions of Africans were brought to the Americas to be sold as slaves. The performance took place in the English Building’s atrium and was supported by the Afrikan-American (sic) Cultural Arts Program.

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Anne Reckitt, junior in LAS and co-president of LCD, stressed that the walk helped people remember that everyone is part of a global community and interconnected with other nations.

“It’s a cultural exchange on equal levels,” Reckitt said. “We can learn from each other.”

Participants in the day’s events had different reasons for walking. Kim Duvell, freshman in LAS, said she had been learning a lot of about charity recently. She added that to be a better Christian it is necessary to give back, and the walk was a good way to help people.

Paul Holze, junior in ACES and president of Club Kramerica, had different reasons for walking entirely. His group decided to participate in the event not only to help a good ca use, but also to pay homage to the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer participated in an AIDS walk but does not wear the red AIDS ribbon. Holze, like Kramer, refused to wear the red AIDS ribbon yesterday, but did participate in the walk.

“Our motto is we walk the walk, but we don’t wear the ribbon,” Holze said. “It is a great cause, though. I have my own personal passion for African culture, and it’s good to meet other kids with the same passion.”

A group of University of Cambridge students in the U.K. started the LCD organization in 1989. The University LCD chapter is the only one in the United States. The group travels to local elementary schools to educate children about the problems occurring in Africa, and it also facilitates cultural exchanges between local youth and children in Africa.

“Africa is not a lost cause,” Baran said.

Participants in Saturday’s walk paid a $15 entry fee, received a free T-shirt and were entered into a raffle. The event’s sponsors provided raffle prizes, which included gift certificates to Papa John’s, Solar Tan and the grand prize – a dinner for 25 at Jillian’s, 1201 S. Neil Street, Champaign. The group will hold a second raffle sometime next week, and tickets are still available for $5.