I have always wanted to participate in the many walks and activities for good causes like Cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc. but work always got on the way. I decided to make it happen this year when a very close family friend created a team and invited us to join her. I signed up and made a committment to go, rain or snow. It was my birthday the day before and I worked the night shift at the nursing home. I was exhausted when I left work at 8AM but I did it. Our Team’s name was VOICEZ
I was very happy to be part of the 45,000 walkers at the AIDS walk NYC yesterday. We walked ten kilometers to raise money. I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that we raised 6 millions yesterday. These funds will enable GMHC and its community partners to continue theiraggressive prevention and advocacy work that reaches hundreds of thousands in the tri-state area, as well as provide urgently needed food, access to medical care, counseling, linkages to safe housing, and other crucial direct services to thousands of people in need living with HIV/AIDS.
The money raised went to the GMHC whose slogan is ” fight AIDS love life.” I think that it is a beautiful message to give people especially the young ones. When you stop the man you love during the act and ask him to wear a condom, it is an act of love for life, yours and his. Also, being tested, knowing your status and taking your precautions is a sign of love for you and your loved ones. 40 other organisationswill benefit from the money raised. My phone died and I couldn’t get more pictures but we were given snacks and water along the way (that kept my siblings entertained and happy) and for the grand finale they served ice cream. The volunteers, bands, cheerleaders were all awesome and they kept the walk lively and entertaining. My favorite part was the banner at the arrival where people wrote why they walked and there were simple statements such as “to raise awareness” and specific ones such as “for my mother.” and specific names. that made me emotional.
I grew up loosing people to this terrible disease, I remember a very brilliant and responsible man telling me “Raya, I cannot get tested because I am scared, I have a wife and children, what if I find out that I am positive? what will I do?” That was years ago and I hope that he did get tested at some point.
Though much progress has been made since, the fight must still exist. We must continue raising awareness and addressing the stigma around HIV/AIDS. The fight can continue by you getting tested and knowing your status. I am scared every time but I do it anyway because I love life.