Bundled up to fend off the morning’s cold and rain, around 600 Calgarians took part yesterday in the city’s 15th annual AIDS walk, held to raise awareness and money for the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The walk was also a personal tribute to a friend lost to the virus for Team Love.
“It’s to show my kids we can make a difference, that we can take our sadness and our grief and do something with it,” said Christina Parker, the team’s leader.
Parker’s daughter Ashling is seven and was the team’s honorary leader.
It’s important to raise money “so people don’t die,” she said.
“We see this event as a primary way for us to engage the Calgary community around HIV prevention work,” said Susan Cress, executive directory for AIDS Calgary.
Forty-five per cent of the new HIV cases in Alberta over the last three years are in the Calgary area, Cress said, adding about 2,000 people in the Calgary area live with AIDS.
AIDS Calgary beat its fundraising goal this weekend bringing in over $139,000 from the walk.
The money raised goes to the association’s outreach programs including educational workshops in the community, Cress said, adding some of the money goes to providing free condoms to encourage safer sex. This year, because of the recession, it was even more important the walk meet its fundraising goal.
“We increasingly have people who have been living with HIV for a long period of time and may not have been needing our services (but) are now needing our services,” said Cress.
She said, most of all, it’s the community that makes their work possible.
“We really thank Calgarians for their support.”