By Liz Laffont
If you saw a red ribbon pinned on someone’s bag, coat or lapel, you’d probably recognize that it represents that person is supporting the fight against AIDS.
Did you know that there are over 100,000 New Yorkers living with HIV? According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC has the highest case rate of AIDS in the country. It is the 3rd leading cause of death for New Yorkers age 65 and under. Our City is in desperate need of more treatment programs, testing, support and education so that we can beat this devastating virus once and for all!
AIDS Walk New York was created to do just that. By continually raising funds since 1986, the AIDS Walk New York has become the largest AIDS Fundraising event in the world. On Sunday, May 18th, you can join over 45,000 New Yorkers for the annual 10k walk which benefits Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and over 60 other AIDS organizations in the greater New York City area. Since it’s inception, the AIDS Walk New York has raised nearly $100 million dollars for HIV/AIDS related programs.
Designer Jack Mackenroth, who competed in Season 4 of Project Runway, will participate in this year’s walk. Since his diagnosis with HIV in 1990, Mackenroth has openly sewn the virus into the fabric of his being. Through openness and honesty he’s fought the stigma of AIDS to become a role model for all. Says Mackenroth, “I walk because I have lived with HIV for 18 years. I walk because I watched a boyfriend die of AIDS. I walk because the epidemic is far from over.” After a pause he also joked, “I walk to get rid of my muffin top!”
Log onto http://www.aidswalk.net to see how you can help. Be inspired to walk in the company of Mackenroth and fellow New Yorker’s below who are walking for a cure on May 18th.
“I’ve been walking since 1988. It’s time for a cure, my legs are getting tired.” – Fran Friedman
“I was 9 or 10 when I first did the walk with my dad, I didn’t know at the time that he was positive. He’s since passed away. I started doing the walk again in college, been doing it ever since. I walk for my dad.” – Victoria Ramirez
“I walk for all the people I love.” – Tawny Grant
“My good friend Todd passed away in the late 80′s while my dear friend Mark has been living with this for more than 20 years and is about to turn 60!! The two of them are my inspiration to walk.” -Sam Gonzalez
“I lost close friends (to the virus). It’s not a problem we’ve got resolved; we’ve got a long way to go until there’s a cure.” – Ellen Stegmen
“It’s one way of giving back to the city. It’s a great experience, a positive experience, all the love, the diverse community; it’s just a truly positive experience.” – Ruth Gold