Local and Community News
About 8,000 Walkers Raise $525,000 in Twin Cities Fundraiser to Fight AIDS
May 19, 2003
Thousands of Twin Cities walkers raised more than half a million dollars for the Minnesota AIDS Project on Sunday, honoring fallen friends, family, or just the HIV/AIDS cause. About 8,000 walkers raised $525,000 for the struggling nonprofit organization, down from 12,000 walkers who raised $650,000 last year. However, Lorraine Teel, the group's executive director, was not disappointed in the least. "Given the economy and all of what's happening in the world, I think we're doing great," she said.Adapted from:
Many of the walkers have made the race, which began in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, an annual tradition. At the end of the 9-kilometer route, Don Johnson waited for about a dozen family members at the finish line. Johnson powered his own wheelchair throughout the course in honor of his son, Bill, who died in 1994 of AIDS complications. "They wanted to push me, but I wanted to do the whole thing myself," said Johnson.
The event's atmosphere was more festive than mournful, despite the gravity of the illness behind it. Groups of friends and families walked with larger corporate contingents. Teacher Chris Behrens led his biology students from Chaska Middle School, after challenging his students to raise as much money as some of the larger corporate groups. More than 50 former employees and volunteers for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone walked in remembrance of their boss, who gave an annual pre-race pep talk. "Since Paul's not here to energize the walkers, we thought we should fill the void," said team captain Jason Little.
According to the Minnesota AIDS Project, more than 7,000 people in the state have HIV and a new case is diagnosed once every 29 hours. Teel said she is particularly concerned about a growing lack of support for AIDS education. "It continues to devolve to a moral battle as opposed to a public health problem," noted Teel.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul)
05.19.03; Rochelle Olson