“Thank you all for joining us on our momentous occasion! We are so happy that so many people made it today! And now, on your mark, get set, go!”
That’s how the AIDS walk started; several thousand people walking in unison for a common cause. Some people were alone, listening to music and jogging to the beat. Others walked with families, most likely planning to visit the surrounding restaurants and hot spots later. Some people also walked in groups, surrounded by their peers from social circles or the workplace.
There were even a select few people who dressed up in drag.
Throughout the walk, you could see people smiling, talking, and enjoying each other’s company.
Then there was Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC).
One morning, Professor Olga Tsoudis explained to her class SOC130 class that it would be participating in the AIDS walk. The students would also be organizing and recruiting others. To accomplish their task, they set up booths around campus, asking for donations to fund AIDS research, and also to hand out male and female condoms.
More than one curious passerby looked at the array of prevention devices, which ranged from dental dams (to protect during oral sex) to female condoms. Many students who saw these items had no idea what they were, and most seemed embarrassed to ask.
As for information on the AIDS walk, many people asked when it was starting, how much it costs, but most asked in disbelief, “You mean I could bring my dog to walk too?”
“Yes!” they replied. Each dog could raise its own amount of money, and that too would go towards raising money for the AIDS walk. After switching the donation jar picture to show various dogs that were going to walk, donations seemed to increase to support the caring canines.
CJ Minott, Director of Events at Aunt Rita’s Foundation (the organizers of AIDS Walk Phoenix), estimated that 6,000 people participated this year. “It was our largest turnout ever.” Minott said. All those people joined together to help stop the spread of a disease that has caused much harm in many lives.
A woman with a microphone was pumping up the crowd, as back up dancers kept the beat of the music. During the walk, various points would have spots for local bands, who sold their CDs on the side to support their goals as well.
EMCC student Annmarie Mathis said, “It was interesting to see so many diverse groups of people coming together for a common goal, a common purpose.”
Nicole Archuletta, a fellow EMCC student, commented, “I really enjoyed walking in the AIDS walk. It was amazing to see so many people supporting a great cause.”