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Inspiring a young generation of HIV/AIDS supporters

Inspiring a young generation of HIV/AIDS supporters

by Kelly Bray, Communications Manager, Lifelong AIDS Alliance

Posted on September 10, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 4:49 PM

Lifelong AIDS Alliance’s Seattle AIDS Walk is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser and is expected to draw a crowd of 4,000 participants on September 22. Funds raised will go towards providing services to individuals with HIV/AIDS as well as preventing new infections.

The AIDS Walk is a community, family-friendly event that continues to attract a wide range of individuals from varying ages and backgrounds. Many who participate lost friends or family members and are walking in memory. Others walk in celebration, as they continue to fight the fight, and live long lives due to adherence to medications and a healthy lifestyle.

“We have come such a long way since the start of the epidemic three decades ago, but we’re not done yet,”” states Randall Russell, Lifelong’s CEO. ”The Seattle AIDS Walk raises funds to support our important work of preventing new infections in King County as well as provides critical services to people living with HIV/AIDS. It is truly a wonderful day, full of remembrance, celebration, and hope. Please join us!”

In recent years, there has been a new crop of supporters in their twenties and thirties who walk or volunteer. This group is giving back to a cause that has affected their parent’s generation so profoundly, knowing that HIV is still a threat today.

At 23 years old, Katina Velloth was not part of the generation where AIDS was known to be a death-sentence. Prior to volunteering at Lifelong, she didn’t know a single person with HIV/AIDS. She is captain of Team Bangarang and has already reached her fundraising goal of $300.

“People think that AIDS is so far away from them when in reality, it is right here in our community,” she says. “It is important for the younger generation to realize that we need to continue the work of those before us in order to truly defeat this disease.”

There are eight school groups participating, including the AIDS Student Peer Educations at Newport (ASPEN) group from Newport High School. There are also eight educational institutions walking, including Seattle University’s OutLaws, an LGBT student organization, and a team from Shoreline Community College. Approximately 59% of all AIDS Walk participants are under 35 years old.

Kim Wetter, age 26, is Team Captain of Team Teamocil. This is her third year participating in the Seattle AIDS Walk.She has already recruited 28 walkers for her team, and the majority of her teammates are in their twenties.

“Education about HIV/AIDS is key to its elimination, so we walk to inform and make this disease more visible to the public,” Kim says. “Our generation is so social, and if we can rally together to spread the word, it could make a visible and profound difference.”

Register as an individual, join an existing team, or create your own team here. Can’t make it out that day? Make an online donation to Team Teamocil, Team Bangarang, Team ASPEN, Team Seattle University Out Laws, or Team Shoreline Community College.

Thank you for your support!

We will see you on September 22!