26th annual LifeWalk steps off Sunday at Lee Park


DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Texas’ largest AIDS fundraiser — the 26th annual LifeWalk — steps off at 1 p.m. on Oct. 9 from Lee Park.
LifeWalk usually takes place the first Sunday in October. This year, however, lead agency AIDS Arms moved the event to the second Sunday after the Black Tie Dinner was pushed up to the beginning of October.

The second Sunday isn’t a perfect date either. The Texas-OU game takes place in Dallas the second weekend of October. And the unofficial Gay Day at the State Fair of Texas is held the Sunday before National Coming Out Day — coinciding with LifeWalk this year.

So to boost attendance, LifeWalk cut the registration fee to $20 for the last week until the day of the event. AIDS Arms Development Director Tori Hobbs said that while the move has boosted registrations, a few days before the event, this year was still lagging slightly behind last year in terms of number of walkers.

Upping the number of walkers will help increase revenue from the event. But Hobbs said the walk is about more than just raising money. “It’s a great way to remind the community that we still need their support despite all the medical advances,” she explained.

LifeWalk benefits several Dallas agencies that provide HIV care as part of their work. Abounding Prosperity, AIDS Interfaith Network and AIDS Services Dallas are primarily AIDS service providers, and they are LifeWalk beneficiaries. UT Southwestern community prevention and intervention unit, another beneficiary, offers risk reduction programs and steer people with HIV into medical care.

But then there are the beneficiaries that serve the HIV/AIDS communities in other ways, like the Turtle Creek Chorale and The Women’s Chorus of Dallas.

The Chorale maintains a fund called Turtle Cares, which can provide help in paying for medication or rent for chorale members with HIV in need. Despite the medical advances made, medications required to maintain health remain unaffordable without insurance.

The Miss Big Thicket pageant, which benefited the Turtle Creek Chorale AIDS Fund during the height of the AIDS crisis, is now a benefit for LifeWalk. The chorale has become one of the walk’s top 10 fundraisers.

“It’s a significant event for us because it carries on the legacy of the TCC AIDS Fund and combines Miss Big Thicket with another event that’s super fun — the walk itself,” said Chorale Executive Director Bruce Jaster.

Other beneficiaries include Tucker’s Gift and Dogs Matter. Dogs Matter offers foster care for dogs while their owners are in the hospital.

Hobbs said having a pet can help keep a person healthy. Worrying about their dog during a hospital stay can have a negative effect on a person’s health.

Tucker’s Gift give owners with HIV access to veterinarian services and dog food for their pets.

After the walk, a festival runs until 3:30 p.m. with food trucks, a DJ, vendor booths and dog adoptions. WFAA news anchor Marcus Moore is the emcee for the afternoon.

Last year, LifeWalk raised more than $687,000, making it the largest LGBT or AIDS fundraiser in North Texas whose entire proceeds benefit local organizations. LifeWalk was even able to take the title of largest AIDS fundraiser in Texas after topping the Houston AIDS walk, whose proceeds dipped below $600,000.

In addition to street parking, free parking is available across Turtle Creek around the Kalita Humphries Theater and in the Centrum garage.
Registration in the park the day of the event begins at 11 a.m. The festival after the walk begins at 2 p.m. and runs until about 3:30 p.m.   •

LifeWalk steps off at 1 p.m. from Lee Park, 3333 Turtle Creek Blvd.  

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2016.