By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
With fall fast approaching, it’s time once again to grab your sneakers and leashes and join the 2013 OKC AIDS Walk.
This year it is themed “Each Step Brings Hope.” It is set for Sunday September 22 in downtown Oklahoma City. The event is family friendly with the Walk, a 5K Run and a Pooch Parade Fashion Show.
All proceeds benefit AIDS Walk of Oklahoma City, Inc.
Registration for the 5th annual 5k Run opens at 7:30 a.m. at the Bricktown Ballpark. The Run, sponsored by Dell, will begin at 9 a.m. Registration is $20 in advance and $25 the day of the run.
The entry fee includes a t-shirt, fruit, sports drink, water, and a swag bag. Awards will be given for the overall first placed male and female finishers, with medals going to the top 3 finishers of each age group. The 5K Run is sanctioned and certified by USA Track & Field.
AIDS Walk teams and individuals may register in advance by visiting www.aidswalkokc.org or they can sign up the day of the Walk. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. at the Myriad Botanical Gardens on the southwest corner of Reno and Robinson.
The one-mile AIDS Walk begins at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
“The growth of the AIDS Walk and 5k Run each year has really shown how the community support has enabled the AIDS Walk Board to do our job,” said AIDS Walk Board President John Greer. “That job is to raise funds to support agencies with HIV/AIDS programs.”
Trophies will be given for the AIDS Walk team with the most walkers, the walk team that raises the most money, the individual who raises the most money and the individual or team who has raised the most money online at FIRST GIVING.
“The FIRST GIVING website may be used to setup your fundraising page and e-mail family and friends so they may donate to it,” said Greer. “It is safe and very easy to raise funds for the cause.”
The AIDS Walk board has partnered with local artist Ashley Griffith, owner of A.K.A. Gallery in the Paseo District, to present the sight and sound photography project “Red State: A portrait of HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma.”
“We have teamed with Ashley to expand to a broader audience on awareness of HIV/AIDS this year in order to raise more funds,” Greer said.
Red State is the first of Griffith’s work to incorporate sound. Griffith said, “The use of portrait photography along with personal stories is to provoke thought and dialogue in an effort to instill a deeper understanding of those affected by HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma a ‘Red State.”
Funding for the “Red State” project was secured through support of the AIDS Walk Board. Griffith hopes to install the first exhibition of the finished work in a nontraditional public space to build awareness about HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma.
“I understand that many people may not or can not reveal their positive status due to work or family etc., but I wanted those people to be able to tell their story and I think that those photos of the back of someone’s head will make the piece even more powerful to the viewer,” said Griffith.
Board members Scott Hines and James Siderias will chair this event along with Griffith.
Griffith plans to unveil this major work this year on World AIDS Day, December 1. For more information or to participate in the Red State project, call 405-606-2522 or visit www.facebook.com/RedStateProject.
The mission of the AIDS Walk of Oklahoma City is to build awareness about HIV/AIDS and to raise funds to support the work of nonprofit organizations that provide HIV/AIDS direct care, support services, and education.
Jim Roth, Chair, Alternative Energy Practice Group for Phillips Murrrah P.C.; President, A New Energy, LLC; and a sponsor of this year’s AIDS Walk said, ““As the rate of infection continues to impact the younger generations in Oklahoma, we must continue to walk, to be ever-present so that those young men and women coming of age learn that this disease can be avoided.”
“This disease must be beaten, and funds are still needed to assist those living with HIV and AIDS in our home state,” Roth said. “Silence is our enemy and so the OKC AIDS Walk is an important clarion call that more must be done if we are to achieve an AIDS-free generation.”
“I have walked for a number of years, had the privilege as serving as grand marshal one year and continue to believe in The Walk’s importance,” Roth added.
Before the Walk participants can browse the many vendor and service organization’s information tables that will be available. Vendor space is free. Interested individuals and organizations can request space by emailing [email protected] Vendors must provide their own tables and chairs.
Back by popular demand, registration for the 2nd annual Pooch Parade will begin at 12:30 p.m., with the Fashion Show starting at 1 p.m. at the Myriad Gardens. For a registration fee of only $5, pups will strut their furry fashions to win trophies available for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place favorites. All dogs in the parade must be in costume and on a leash.
OK Save A Dog Foundation will again be on hand for pet adoptions. The Prague, Oklahoma based nonprofit, is committed to saving as many dogs as possible.
“We are thrilled to be at the AIDS Walk, such fantastic people and warm reception,” said Kin Bowers, director of OK Save A Dog. “Our invitation to participate means so much to us and the dogs who benefit from many great homes found there.”
Since 1998, the AIDS Walk of Oklahoma City has locally distributed more than $635,000 to fund local programs focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention, education, and direct services to individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS.
Last year grants totaling $40,000 were allocated to support nine Oklahoma City nonprofit organizations, which include: The Latino Community Development Agency; Other Options, Inc.; Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, Inc.; RAIN-Oklahoma; Red Rock Behavioral Health Services; Northern Lights; Be the Change; Winds House, AIDS Support Program; and Expressions Community Center.
AIDS was first recognized by the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 1981. The first two cases of AIDS in Oklahoma were diagnosed in 1982 and the first two cases of HIV were diagnosed in 1984. By the end of 2011, an estimated 8,770 cases of HIV/AIDS had been diagnosed among residents of Oklahoma.
“Thousands of people living in our community have benefited from the funds raised through the AIDS Walk of Oklahoma City,” said Greer. “We’re excited about the growth of the 5k Run, which continues to expand our audience and their awareness of our message of HIV/AIDS.”
Also benefitting AIDS Walk OKC, the 21st annual Turn About Show, sponsored by the HiLo Club, at 1221 NW 50th Street in Oklahoma City, will again take place the Saturday night before the AIDS Walk starting at 9 p.m.
For more information or to become a sponsor of AIDS Walk OKC, download the online sponsorship form at www.aidswalkokc.org, email [email protected] or call John Greer at 405-812-1630
AIDS Walk OKC unites walkers, runners, and four legged folks to support those with HIV/AIDS
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