LifeWalk steps off Sunday in Lee Park

Nobles says that park will not be fenced this year but is worried about added cost and barrier affecting next year’s event

KICKING UP THEIR HEELS | The LifeWalk organizing committee gets ready for Sunday.

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

New requirements by the city of Dallas could affect proceed totals from this year’s AIDS Arms LifeWalk, and at least one more new requirement is expected to be added to the list next year, according to LifeWalk organizers.

The 21st annual LifeWalk steps off from Lee Park on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. for the 3.2-mile walk. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. Last year’s event raised $401,000 and this year’s goal is $500,000.

Although thousands of people are expected for the event, Lee Park will remain unfenced this year, even though the city has said such gatherings will require fencing in the future.

Officials with the Dallas Tavern Guild, which stages the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and the Festival in Lee Park each year as part of Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride celebration, decided to get ahead of the new requirement by fencing in Lee Park this year for the festival, although the city requirement had not yet gone into effect.

Tavern Guild officials also chose to charge a $5 admission fee to the festival this year to help offset expenses and raise extra funds that will be distributed to parade beneficiaries.

The admission fee raised the ire of some in the community, and attendance at the festival was down compared to last year. But Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said the drop was not significant, and noted that the admission fee brought in about $25,000 that will be divided among beneficiaries.

But AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said new city requirements have already had an impact on LifeWalk, and she is worried that the new fencing requirements could affect next year’s walk.

“There were a lot more expenses from the city this year,” she said. “It really hits the bottom line.”

The cost of fencing next year will add an additional, unwelcome expense. But Nobles said she isn’t going to worry about that until after this weekend’s event. Right now, her main concern is getting people out to participate in this year’s fundraiser.

“Anyone can participate in LifeWalk,” Nobles said. “You can walk alone or bring friends or join a team. We even have poop-out vans: In case you can’t walk the entire three-mile route, someone will pick you up and bring you back to the park to have a good time.”

She also invited people to just come to the park and cheer.

“We need cheerleaders at the start and finish and at the water stations,” Nobles said. “We have pompoms for anyone who wants to cheer the walkers on.”

Registration for LifeWalk is $40 for people and $10 for dogs participating in LifeBark. People get a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana to show their support for people with HIV.

AIDS Arms is the primary beneficiary of LifeWalk, but other organizations also receive funds from the event, including AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus, Bryan’s House, Resource Center Dallas and the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

Money raised goes toward programming rather than capital costs. The chorale uses funds for their HIV fund, including giving tickets to performances through the year to people with AIDS.

Nobles praised that effort, saying that socializing is an important holistic element in treating HIV.

The Women’s Chorus will present a program at AIDS Arms in March on National HIV Women’s Day. Those expenses, Nobles said, should be covered by the group’s LifeWalk proceeds.

Nobles said it would be tempting for AIDS Arms to use the money to finish paying off the agency’s new Trinity Health and Wellness Center in Oak Cliff. She said that the new facility cost more than $2 million, and AIDS Arms needs to raise just $35,000 more to pay off the facility.

Trinity Health and Wellness Center opened in September and will have its formal grand opening in two weeks.

But despite the temptation, AIDS Arms will instead use proceeds from LifeWalk to support programs for clients at Trinity as well as at AIDS Arms’ older clinic, Peabody Health Center in South Dallas.

AIDS Arms also uses the money to administer HIV tests to more than 3,500 people a year and for case management for more than 3,400 people.

LifeWalk began in 1990 as a fundraiser for Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency closed, management of the event moved to AIDS Arms.

LifeWalk Co-chair Marvin Green noted that his Green Team will mark its 20th year of participation in LifeWalk. He said he put the team together for the first time in the second year of LifeWalk because he had already lost 20 friends to AIDS.

That first year, three team members raised $75. This year, the 32-member Green Team has collected about $22,000.

Co-chair Fred Harris said that there were quite a few new teams this year.

“We’re reaching out to new communities,” Harris said. “There’s new energy. We’re branching outside Oak Lawn.”

He said teams are using creative new ways to raise money and AIDS Arms has actively brought in new sponsors such as Chipotle.

“Stoli is coming with a first-ever LifeWalk drink,” Nobles said. Returning sponsor Caven Enterprises will serve beer and Ben E. Keith donated iced tea.

Harris said planning has gone well, and that “LifeWalk is a well-oiled machine.”

Harris said he has seen more use of social media this year than ever, reaching out to people outside the Metroplex.

“This year Facebook has become a very powerful tool,” he said, not just for fundraising but also for recruiting walkers.

Last year, about 3,500 people walked, and this year, “Registration is ahead of where we were this time last year,” Harris said.

Waterpalooza, another AIDS Arms event, was moved to Pride weekend this year, just two weeks prior to LifeWalk. Harris said they took advantage of that event to sign up teams and walkers and generate excitement for this weekend’s walk.

Among the new teams, Harris said, are the DFW Sisters.

“Their efforts have been tireless,” he said. “They raise the bar.”

Nobles said that WFAA Channel 8 morning anchor Ron Corning will serve as M.C. in Lee Park. Although he’s appeared at several events since arriving in Dallas, this is the first big public event the openly gay television host has emceed.

LifeWalk received the Human Rights Campaign family-friendly designation, and Nobles said there will be bounce houses, clowns and face-painting for children.

Harris said the event is pet-friendly as well, “because pets are our family.”

There will be games and puppy pools for dogs as well as doggie adoptions, Nobles said.

She said the day would be a lot of fun but asked people to participate because the need is greater than ever.

“With the growth in the number of newly-infected people in Dallas County who need help in this economy, we’re seeing people who never would ask but must,” she said.

Next year, Nobles said, she would like to see LifeWalk return to Oak Lawn, but new city regulations for events may change those plans. Among the events changing plans this year because of the city involved Lone Star Ride.

Last year, Lone Star Riders participated in LifeWalk on bike. This year, city regulations banned bikes from walks so LSR riders who participate will have to walk.

Green was thinking about bigger plans for future LifeWalks. Other cities that raise more money stage longer walks. He said he’d love to use the new Downtown Deck Park that should be completed next year and dreamed of seeing LifeWalkers crossing the new suspension bridge that should be open in March 2012.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

LSR Journal: Because it’s fun to help others

Jacob Comer
Jacob Comer

By Jacob Comer Team Dallas Voice

My name is Jacob. I am 11 years old, and I just started sixth grade. This year, I am working on the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS pit stop crew with my mom, Sandra.

I like to ride my bike. Last year, when I was in fifth grade and the school I went to was closer to my house, I would ride my bike to school.
One day, I want to be a rider in Lone Star Ride. But that will have to wait until I am older and can ride farther.

Last year, my mom was riding her bike in Lone Star Ride. But she had a wreck and hurt her hand.

When she came home and I saw that her hand was hurt, I was upset, and I said I didn’t want her to ride any more. But then she told me why she was riding.

She told me that the reason for Lone Star Ride is to raise money for people who have a disease called AIDS. She said that AIDS makes you really feel bad and you have to take lots of medicine all the time.

She also said that the medicines cost lots of money and it is hard for people to pay for the medicines they need, especially because AIDS makes people so sick that sometimes they can’t work to make money.

So people who have AIDS sometimes can’t pay for food or for a place to live. It made me very sad to think of that.
Mom told me that Lone Star Ride raises money to help people with AIDS get their medicine and have somewhere to live and food to eat.

So when she said she was going to volunteer again this year, I told her I wanted to volunteer, too. I want to do something to help people who are already sick, and I want to help other people keep from getting AIDS.

One time this summer, Mom and I went to one of the Lone Star Ride training rides. We rode in our car to make sure that the people on their bikes were OK.

If someone started feeling bad or got too tired to ride any more, we picked them up and drove them back to the finish line.

It was so much fun. I love to work with my family and people that I know, and I love to meet new people and make new friends. Lone Star Ride is a great way to do that.

It was so much fun to go by the people on their bikes and cheer for them and wave to them.

It is fun to help people.

Why don’t you come and ride with us or volunteer for the crew so that you can have fun helping people, too?

A note from Jake’s mom: There are a lot of adults out there who either don’t see the importance of participating in Lone Star Ride or other such events, or who aren’t willing to give the time and put out the effort to be part of something that is so important.

And to know that my son, at 11 years old, is already thoughtful and kind-hearted enough to make this sort of commitment makes me very, very proud.

I know that it takes a lot of time and effort and dedication to ride a bike 150 miles over two days.

And yes, it takes time and effort and dedication to volunteer for one of the crew positions.

But that time and effort is nothing compared to the good that you can do for people living with AIDS who need your help.

Even if you can’t ride or crew, you can donate to someone who is.

So come on — join me and Jake and do your part for the Lone Star Ride and the people it serves.   

To donate to Jacob or to another LSR rider or crew member, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Lone Star Ride in (on) the news!

Cynthia Izaguirre of Dallas’ News 8 Daybreak interviews Lone Star Ride co-chair Laura Kerr on the Katy Trail Tuesday morning.

Around 15 cyclists participating in the 10th annual Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS got up bright and early this morning to hit the Katy Trail to meet with Cynthia Izaguirre, co-host of WFAA-Channel 8′s News 8 Daybreak program. Izaguirre interviewed LSR co-chair Laura Kerr, event manager David Minehart and Pos Pedaler Jim Frederick, and the rest of us were there with our bikes and bright jerseys to ride down the trail together for the “B-roll” extra footage.

Ms. Izaguirre told us the segment should air on Tuesday, Aug. 17, between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. (unless it gets bumped by some big breaking news story. If that happens, watch for it on Thursday, Aug. 19 at the same time).

She also asked for as many LSRiders as possible — at least 50, she said — to gather in the Plaza at Victory Park about 6 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 24 — the day before Lone Star Ride — for the filming of News 8 Daybreak. So if you are a LSRider, put it on your calendar and head on day that morning in your jerseys, with your bike and all your gear. (I know, I know. That means getting up at the ass-crack of dawn, which I hate. But I can do it this one time for such a great cause, and so can you!)

Even if you’re not a rider but you are LSR supporter, come on down that morning. The more the merrier.

News 8 Daybreak’s Cynthia Izaguirre interviews LSR event manager David Mineheart, above, and Pos Pedaler Jim Frederick, below.

—  admin