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Allison Joyner

AHF, corporate sponsors, celebrate 30 years of AIDS Walk Atlanta

Runners taking their mark at previous AIDS Walk Atlanta 5K. Credit: Verizon

The 5K and music festival returns to Piedmont Park on Sept. 25 after last year’s absence due to COVID-19 restrictions.

By Allison Joyner

For more than 30 years, the AIDS Walk Atlanta has helped the city raise vital funds to support local HIV and AIDS nonprofit organizations.

Led by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the annual fundraiser will help these organizations continue their mission to bring awareness to and provide services for those living with AIDS.

Spectators cheer runners during previous AIDS Walk 5K
Credit: AIDS Walk Atlanta 5K

AHF Atlanta Regional Director Dawn Averill said in a statement that the organization is “proud to present this event as one of the many ways that we educate and empower the local community to join the fight against HIV and AIDS.”

It was in the early 80s when Director of Editorials and Public Affairs for WSB-TV Jocelyn Dorsey had a flyer come across her desk promoting the first walk being held at a small event venue. 

Inspired by a neighbor who was suffering from the devastating virus in the late 70s, she told SaportaReport that she was interested in helping and informed the promoters, “I think there’s going to be an overwhelming response and you’re going to have to move the location.” 

The promoters listened and the walk has been hosted at Piedmont Park ever since. 

“It struck me that the time had come for there to be something publicly to raise awareness,” she continued.

According to the Georgia Department of Health (GDH), 70 percent of individuals living with HIV in the state reside in Atlanta, with the majority living in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

 

 

In recent years, the virus has been disproportionately impacting communities of color. 

Imara Canady, national director of communications and community engagement with AHF, says Black and Brown people are contracting the virus at an alarming rate. 

In addition to 5K, people can enjoy good music from well-known artists.
Credit: AIDS Walk Atlanta 5K

Tim Davies, general manager of Radio One Atlanta, said this change in who is contracting the virus had motivated the media conglomerate to sponsor the walk and support the AHF for the last 12 years.

 


 

“It is our duty to [create] conversations about HIV and also be able to communicate in our mediums that talk directly to all different ages of the population,” Davies said. “There is a critical need to elevate the work and the priority that’s putting on addressing HIV and AIDS  in communities all across the South and particularly here in metropolitan Atlanta.”

The Center for Black Women Wellness (CBWW) is one of the organizations that will receive funds raised from the walk. Their CEO, Jemea Dorsey says, its mission is to improve the health and well-being of Black women and their families and provide affordable quality healthcare for the uninsured.

“We have always integrated HIV testing in our work and want to recognize it and make it a normal part of receiving care whether you’re receiving GYN or primary care.”

Averill said that this year’s walk would be a family-fun event, with something for everyone to enjoy. 

Volunteers are happy to help during previous AIDS Walk and Music Festival.
Credit: AIDS Walk Atlanta 5K

“This annual event offers a time to create greater awareness on the impact of HIV and AIDS on the local Atlanta community as well as an opportunity to bring thousands from across the region to raise critical funds for these ten worthy organizations.”

Reina Short, assistant vice president of community development for Delta Community Credit Union, is looking forward to being a first-time sponsor of the walk. 

She said in a statement that their support with the AHF will “fund new initiatives and innovations that will assist their efforts to address positive health outcomes for our communities.”

There is still time to participate in this year’s AIDS Walk & Music Festival and also form a team. 

To register, go to the walk’s official website.

Click here to see Kelly Jordan’s photos from the 2021 AIDS Walk Atlanta at Piedmont Park.

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