AIDS Walk South Dallas steps off for the 5th time with additional sponsors and one new and one returning beneficiary
AIDS Walk South Dallas
Saturday, March 21
8 a.m.–3 p.m.
Walk Start Time: 10 a.m.
St. Philip’s School and Community Center, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Dallas
Proceeds go to AIDS Interfaith Network and Black Transmen
Organizers of AIDS Walk South Dallas this year have added Black Transmen as a beneficiary, along with AIDS Interfaith Network, in a move that walk Executive Director Auntjuan Wiley said was a great way to diversify the walk.
Steven Pace, executive director of AIN, said the event “helps us collaborate with organizations in the area.”
About 40 percent of the people served by AIN come from south and southeast Dallas, according to Pace. His agency provides transportation for people living with AIDS and offers a meal program and an adult day care center.
For the first time in a year, Pace said, all of the agency’s services will come under one roof. AIN’s former home was in an office complex near downtown that closed. The landlord in its new building lagged in construction and just finished building out the kitchen.
The hot meals program that provides breakfast and lunch, mostly for homeless or housing unstable people living with AIDS, has been taking place at Cathedral of Hope along with the Daire Center.
The Daire Center provides a safe place for people with AIDS to connect, access a phone and other services and follow up on appointments. Both programs move to AIN’s facility at 2707 N. Stemmons Freeway on March 23.
Pace said AIDS Walk South Dallas allows the community to embrace HIV and become more involved. He said a large portion of his clients are from South Dallas, adding “it gives us the opportunity to participate with the community there.”
Pace said AIN works with other South Dallas organizations to do prevention work.
“The walk helps us collaborate with organizations in that area,” he added.
Carter Brown, who founded and heads the organization, said although this is the first year his group will receive funds, Black Transmen as an organization has been volunteering for AIDS Walk South Dallas since 2012.
Brown said he founded Black Transmen in 2011, and his group has grown to about 30 members locally, with five state affiliates elsewhere in the country. In April, his group is hosting a national Black Transmen convention in Dallas.
Brown echoed Pace’s comments about the walk, saying Black Transmen has a “reciprocal relationship” with AWSD. He said participation allows his organization to get AIDS awareness information out to its members and to interact with the community.
Brown said trans men are generally considered a low risk group for contracting HIV, but that’s because there are no statistics and no studies on transmission among trans men. Classifying trans men as low risk is counterintuitive, he said, since they date people who are high risk.
Wiley said in addition to the new beneficiary, his list of sponsors has grown and diversified for the fifth walk. Covenant Catering Company is among those new sponsors and will provide both breakfast and lunch for walk participants.
Dallas Southern Pride, The Brick and Equality Vodka are additional first-time sponsors.
Returning sponsors, Wiley said, have redoubled their efforts to make this year’s walk successful.
For a month, participating Walgreens stores asked customers to donate a dollar to the walk as they checked out at the cashier.
The Original Cupcakery offered an AIDS Walk South Dallas cupcake with proceeds benefiting the event.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation is another returning sponsor, and AHF Texas Regional Director Bret Camp said, “It’s good to see communities mobilizing. AIDS Walk South Dallas reaches people who may not be active in other HIV activities.”
AHF operates two medical clinics in North Texas — one in Fort Worth at AIDS Outreach Center and one in North Dallas at Medical City — as well as Out of the Closet on Cedar Springs Road. Camp said additional clinics are planned in Texas.
Camp said the Dallas clinic serves people from every zip code affected by HIV including many from South Dallas, even though AIDS Arms Peabody Clinic is just blocks from where the walk takes place.
“Some people don’t want to get their care in their neighborhood,” Camp said. “We’re pleased to be able to support the community being reached through AIDS Walk South Dallas.”
Wiley encouraged people to arrive early to the walk, even if they have already registered, since breakfast will be served. Vendors, including many of the HIV providers, will have booths set up around the field across from St. Philip’s School where the walk begins and ends.
Registration for the walk begins at 8 a.m. and the walk steps off at 10 a.m. on March 21. St. Philip’s School and Community Center, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. hosts the event. Parking is available in the school’s parking lot, but volunteers will direct traffic to alternate parking once the lot is full.
Tarrant County AIDS Walk marks 23rd anniversary with new events, hope
Tarrant County AIDS Walk
Saturday, March 21
9 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Walk Start Time: 10:30 a.m.
Trinity Park Pavilion, 2300 W. 7th Street, Fort Worth
All proceeds go to AIDS Outreach Center to serve women, men, and children living with and at risk for HIV in our community.
The first Tarrant County AIDS Walk took place in 1992 in Fort Worth’s Trinity Park, just west of downtown. It was the one of the first major sources of funding for the AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County, which began as an all-volunteer organization in 1986.
On Saturday, March 21, 23 years later, the 2015 walk will be held in the same location and will be attended by many familiar faces, all gathering for the same mission.
But this year, we are a world away from when AIDS was called the “gay disease” and there were few viable treatments and no sign of a vaccine, much less a cure.
Then, like now, said AOC’s Development Associate Sarina Harz, the walk was a fundraiser. But, she added, “it was also a way to honor those the community had lost to the disease, encourage those who were surviving, and raise awareness in the community.”
Today, Harz said, “the walk is a large fundraiser as well as an educational opportunity and community gathering.”
As of press deadline, 225 participants had registered for the 5K (3.2-mile) walk and raised $30,000. By the time the walk steps off on Saturday, Harz said she anticipates around 50 to 100 more walkers, and 50 to 100 more spectators, volunteers and vendors.
And more participants means more money raised. And that has Harz feeling hopeful.
“The turn out is bigger than [recent] years, though not as big as the turnout in the 1990s,” she said, although she is worried that turnout may be impacted by weather, with a high chance of rain predicted for the day of the walk.
Fortunately, unlike in the time following the Great Recession of 2008 when numerous nonprofits and service providers had to drastically cut funds or even close, AOC is seeing an increase in giving, Harz said.
“The economy seems to be improving, as is our relationship with our donors. We are growing in numbers of donors and in the consistency of donations. We will soon announce another matching gift program to accompany our Red Ribbon Circle giving society,” she said.
The AIDS Walk was AOC’s biggest fundraiser until the organization merged with Tarrant County AIDS Interfaith Network in 2009. Having grown in size, the organization created Evening of Hope, which takes place this year on May 30.
Evening of Hope has grown significantly since it was first held, “so much so that this year we will be hosting it at the Worthington in Downtown Fort Worth,” Harz noted.
With the glamorous Evening of Hope now serving as AOC’s fundraising anchor, the Tarrant County AIDS Walk can take on another mission: education.
“[It’s] still a major fundraiser for AOC, but has also become about promoting healthy lifestyles, visibility in the community, and educating North
Texas about the work we do,” Harz said. “Testing is also done at the event, which promotes prevention and knowing one’s HIV status.”
But this walk won’t be just like any other walk. New to this year’s event will be a Blessing of the Pets and two live bands, including headliners Pocket Theory. Dallas/Fort Worth favorite Mi Cocina will also provide breakfast.
Harz suggested participants’ stick around for the public event after the walk ends.
“We have an after party with live bands and performances, the In & Out Burger food truck, free beer for walkers supplied by Ben E. Keith, vendors,
WoofKornor [the dog area], and Cook’s Children Kids Kornor,” she said.
From a somber reminder to a celebratory educational event that is now one of the most popular in Tarrant County, the Tarrant County AIDS Walk has come a long way since 1992.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 20, 2015.