This is the third in a series of columns by past co-chairs of the AIDS Arms LifeWalk that will be published in Dallas Voice leading up to the 20th anniversary of the event on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Ray Warner Special Contributor
Because of my involvement with Nelson-Tebedo Health Clinic as an HIV counselor and phlebotomist, a good friend asked me one day if I would be interested in joining the AIDS Arms LifeWalk steering committee for 2005.
“Are you crazy?!” I answered. “I don’t have time to volunteer with another agency.”
But I said I would go to the event and see what it was all about.
Somehow I found the time to volunteer at both places, manage a home and still work full time.
The steering committee was made up of both past committee members and new members, and the people I met that day were a wonderful group. So I joined, and I had a really great time planning and doing fundraisers.
When the day of the walk finally arrived, I felt like I worked my butt off. But at the end of the day, when they let us know how much unrestricted money had been raised, I suddenly did not feel so tired. In fact, I was very excited about getting started for LifeWalk 2006.
Several months before the committee was to meet, I got a call from my friend Bill telling me that AIDS Arms had a new director of development, named Margaret Byrne. I had not met her yet so Margaret, Bill and I met for lunch. And that, as they say, is how it all began.
Bill was asked to be LifeWalk chair, and he suggested me as his co-chair. I was so honored to be ask to do something with an organization that I was passionate about.
During the 2006 LifeWalk, we raised nearly $100,000 more than we had raised in 2005. The steering committee built a float for the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and won the “Carson Kressley Trophy” for best costumes.
I was co-chair again in 2007, and again we raised even more money than we had the previous year. And we won yet another trophy in the parade, this time bringing home the “Queen Latifa Trophy” for best nonprofit.
Then came 2008, and once again I was LifeWalk co-chair, the first person to be co-chair for three years in a row. That was a huge honor for me, especially being in such a great group of co-chairs, both past and present. We again exceeded our fundraising goals in 2008. And when Margaret Byrne and Robert Moore presented me with the Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2009 LifeWalk, I was surprised and honored beyond belief.
I am so honored to have held the position of LifeWalk with such a great group of family, because, believe me, it is just like a family. We argued like brothers and sisters. There were ups and downs. But just like a family, we had each others’ backs.
Bottom line, raising money to help the clients of AIDS Arms and the other LifeWalk beneficiaries is the most important task at hand.Volunteering just a little bit of your time is so important to a nonprofit agency. These agencies are very special to my heart; some of my best friends are living with HIV, and some others have already lost their battles with the virus.
I know that a cure will be found so that no one else has to lose the battle. You can help. Get out there and volunteer for LifeWalk, walk, or just tell others about this wonderful event. I hope that I see you as I walk with the Nelson-Tebedo Team on Sunday, Oct. 10.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.