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Still Giving Hope in the Face of an Epidemic: 20th AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run | Community Spirit

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Still Giving Hope in the Face of an Epidemic: 20th AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run

Thousands of individuals, organizations and corporations will join together to celebrate two decades of giving hope on Sunday, October 17, 2010, at the 20th annual AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run. The largest and most visible fundraising event for AIDS in the Southeast, the event makes it possible for AID Atlanta, producers of the Walk, and nine other AIDS service organizations to continue the work to stop the spread of HIV and optimize the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. With Georgia's current rank of 9th in the nation for new HIV infections and the now epidemic numbers of people living with the disease in downtown Atlanta, it is more important than ever for Atlantans to walk and take an active role in the health of their community.

This year’s Walk will begin at Piedmont Park at 2 p.m., with the 5K run starting at 1:45 p.m., both traveling through Midtown Atlanta and ending at Piedmont Park. In addition to the Walk/Run, blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display, weather permitting. With a total of more than 47,000 handmade panels created in memory of nearly 91,000 individuals lost to HIV/AIDS, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is the largest, ongoing, community folk art project in the world and an important weapon in the battle to educate against HIV/AIDS, according to The NAMES Project Foundation, the international caretaker of The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

As part of the celebration this year, AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run has named five spokespeople, including:

  • Robby Astrove and Danielle Arellano. Astrove and Arellano are a “serodiscordant” married couple – meaning one is HIV positive (Robby) and the other has remained HIV negative.
  • Marty Mitchell is the mother of Brett Lykins, the former youth HIV ambassador for AIDS Walk Atlanta, who lost his personal battle with AIDS in 2007.
  • Craig Washington, an outspoken leader among people living with HIV, also serves as preventions program manager at AID Atlanta.
  • Denise Stokes, who has been HIV positive for 28 years, has worked in HIV prevention for 20 years, and served as the 2008 spokesperson for AIDS Walk Atlanta and 5K Run.

Tracy Elliott, executive director of AID Atlanta, said, “This is our 20th anniversary of the AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run. Last year, AID Atlanta helped 94,000 Atlantans with HIV/AIDS with education and outreach services. Each year, we reach 30,000 youths in the state of Georgia by partnering with the Rotary Club to teach children and teens about HIV prevention. This year, we are seeing more people seeking help for services because of the economy. We need the Atlanta community to come together to help us continue to provide vital services to those in need.”

Craig Washington, prevention programs manager of AID Atlanta, said, “It’s an honor to be one of this year’s Walk spokespeople, as I am part of a lineage of black gay men – many of whom are no longer here. AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run has a legacy of hope, love and commitment to the people living with HIV and helping people get back on their feet to live productive lives.”

Marty Mitchell, said her message is to “never give up.” “Our message is one of hope and prevention. The Walk lets us come together as a community to break down barriers, support each other and end this disease.”

AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run benefits thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS and helps prevent HIV infection through the programs and services of AID Atlanta and nine other participating organizations providing treatment, medication, prevention education, meals, housing, mental health services, child care, substance abuse counseling, pastoral care, and research.

The organizations are: AID Atlanta; AID Gwinnett; AIDS Alliance for Faith and Health, AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta, Aniz, Home But Not Alone, Jerusalem House, Living Room, Open Hand and Positive Impact.

This year’s Walk sponsors include presenting sponsor, Delta Air Lines; Abbott Laboratories, Alston + Bird; Atlanta Gas Light, Atlanta Sound & Lighting, AutoTrader.com; Big Peach Running Co.; Bristol-Myers Squibb; Cascadian Farm; Chevron; Coca-Cola Enterprises; Deutsche Bank and Rainbow Group Americas; EMD Serono, Inc.; Extra Space Storage; Gap Inc.; GA Voice; Georgia Power; Hotel Indigo Atlanta Midtown; Kroger; Larabar; Las Margaritas; OraSure Technologies; Park Tavern; PriceWaterhouseCoopers; Publix Super Market Charities; Shionogi Pharma, Inc.; The Coca-Cola Company; Tibotec Therapeutics; V103 – The People’s Station; Walgreens Pharmacy; and WSB-TV.

For more information or to register, visit www.aidswalkatlanta.com or call (404) 876-WALK (9255).