Sept 16, 2005
Volume 33
Issue 37

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AIDS Walk raises over $650,000 for Lifelong - The most successful walk in over five years
AIDS Walk raises over $650,000 for Lifelong - The most successful walk in over five years
By Cory Curtis - Special to the SGN

Last Saturday, on a wet Seattle morning, more than 3,900 people came to Volunteer Park for the 19th Annual AIDS Walk. Despite chilly conditions, this AIDS Walk was the most successful in over five years, raising over $650,000 for Lifelong AIDS Alliance, the Northwest's largest HIV/AIDS service organization.

The AIDS Walk, for the first time in its history, was held in Volunteer Park in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. This successful move to the neighborhood that first responded to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the early 1980's, was intended to bring back grassroots support for HIV/AIDS issues and to support the Broadway businesses and merchants that have been supportive of Lifelong. All walkers received a coupon book with information and specials at 38 Broadway businesses.

"Capitol Hill is home to the community that first responded to HIV/AIDS, and home to a diverse population of caring Seattlites," said Tina Podlodowski, Executive Director of Lifelong. "Lifelong AIDS Alliance (as Northwest AIDS Foundation), was started by a group of volunteers who passed a soup can around Volunteer Park to raise money to provide care to people living with HIV/AIDS. That first day they raised $42. Twenty years later we were able to raise $650,000. It means that Seattle is an incredibly giving community, but also that HIV/AIDS has not gone away."

Leading the AIDS Walk this year were Governor Christine Gregoire, Attorney General Rob McKenna, King County Executive Ron Sims, and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. They were joined by about 20 state, regional, and local elected officials including: State Senators Frank Chopp, Jeanne Kohl-Wells and Pat Thibaudeau; State Representatives Joe McDermott and Zach Hudgins; King County Councilmembers David Irons and Larry Phillips; and Seattle City Councilmembers Jan Drago, Richard Conlin, Jean Godden, Nick Licata, and Tom Rasmussen.

Opening ceremonies were hosted by King 5 anchor Jean Enersen, a long time supporter of the AIDS Walk, and Lifelong's Executive Director, Tina Podlodowski, a former Seattle City Council Member. Though the rain forced the opening ceremonies to be shortened and required the cancellation of the post-Walk entertainment, people still made it to the finish line to be cheered on with a lot of spirit.

Many walkers carried signs in memory of someone they had lost. A group of about 20 people walked with light blue T-shirts that read, "For Bri," in honor of a friend and family member they had lost. At the end of the Walk, one of "Team Bri's" members pulled out clippers and shaved his head - indicating a promise he had made if the team raised a certain amount of money. Together, they brought in $5,546.

Amounts raised by team's this year had higher averages than at any time in recent memory. Team Microsoft, the event's lead sponsor, raised an astounding $55,524 for the cause. Lifelong's own group of employees raised $39,638. Companies, such as The Gap, Amgen, Nucleus, and Windermere all raised around $10,000 each. Of particular note was ASPEN, a group of high school students at Aspen High School in Bellevue whose focus was on educating their peers about AIDS and STD's. They held bake sales, car washes, and went door to door to raise $21,128!

"The incredible support of AIDS Walk 2005 shows that people have great concern for HIV/AIDS issues in Seattle," said Podlodowski. "Two people are infected everyday in Washington state with HIV/AIDS. The AIDS Walk is about raising awareness, understanding, and money to help end this disease."

Cory Curtis is also a staff member of Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

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