Grand Circle Foundation and AIDS Action Committee recognize 25 years of awareness together
As the Chinese proverb reminds us, "The longest journey begins with a single step." The road to ending the scourge of AIDS and HIV remains a long one—but on Sunday, June 6 in Boston, 12,000 men, women, and children stepped out to do their part to raise funds and awareness about the disease.
The walkers were participating in AIDS Walk Boston, the marquee event on the annual fundraising calendar of AIDS Action Committee Boston (AAC), New England's largest and oldest AIDS service organization. Held annually since 1986 and commemorating its 25th year in 2010, the Walk raises funding for AAC's programs and services and also raises awareness of the impact HIV/AIDS has on individuals, families, and the community at large.
The event occurs on the first Sunday in June and consists of the "Larry Kessler 5K Run," named for the founder of AIDS Action Committee, and a 6.2 mile walk. Despite gloomy skies and the threat of a big storm, the event went on as scheduled and drew a crowd of within the range of the 12,000-15,000 who participate each year.
"It was a great event," reports AAC's President & CEO Rebecca Haag, who goes on to point out that, while only about one-third of those participating raise money through the event, the awareness-building they provide is just as important. Many of the walkers join in to remember someone afflicted with the disease. And, Rebecca reports, the event is a bonding experience for 100 families who have walked in the event for 20 years in honor of a lost son.
For many years a presenting sponsor of the event, Grand Circle Foundation has been supporting the AIDS Walk since the very first walk 25 years ago, and many staff members from Grand Circle headquarters in Boston join the Walk each year. This year, 54 associates set out on the Esplanade along the Charles River—proudly wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the number 25 to honor the anniversary of both the walk itself and Grand Circle's participation. "At Grand Circle, we believe in changing people's lives, and we believe that people are #1," says Jaime Tolentino, a team captain who walked in memory of a friend who passed away due to HIV-related complications. "On June 6, we represented both of those messages. It feels good to help such a wonderful cause, and doing it as a team makes it that much greater."
While donations are still being tallied, the team estimates that it raised over $10,000 for the organization. "Grand Circle Foundation has been wonderful," Rebecca says. Also wonderful, in her eyes, is the broad range of support evinced by those who join the walk. "We have middle schoolers, fraternities, sororities, women, African-Americans—it's not just gay men," she says. "We have to recognize that this disease affects everyone and do what we can to get the word out."