AIDS Walk Tampa Bay Shortened to Ease the Heat

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When AIDS Walk Tampa Bay rolls around every year, organizers plan for a long day. With temperatures in the 90s, and a heat index reaching 100 degrees, the trek can be a challenge.

With that in mind, the event this year on Saturday, Sept. 7 will be a 1.5 mile walk, down from the 3.1 miles (5K) of previous years. In its 10th year, more than 1,200 people are expected at Vinoy Park to raise money for the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas.

“We have so many different ability levels that come out to participate that it takes an hour or two hours for people to cross the finish line, and that postpones our closing remarks and announcement of money raised,” said Jay Aller, AIDS Walk Staff Coordinator.

Participants can check in between 8-9:45 a.m. with the walk beginning at 10 a.m. The route begins at Vinoy Park, goes along the waterfront, past The Pier to the Yacht Club, up Beach Drive and back to the park. Registration is free, but walkers must raise $25 or more for a T-shirt.

Walkers can collect contributions and bring them to the event or ask for donations online at Awards will be given to the largest team, the team that raises the most money, and the individual who raises the most money.

Indianapolis Artist Richard Terpstra, who is well-known for his vintage, throw-back designs, created this year’s AIDS Walk T-shirt as a “distressed” athletic shirt. Terpstra’s designs can be found in Walt Disney’s theme parks.

“There are a lot of bad T-shirts out there that people pick up at events and wear that one day,” Terpstra said. “They become a night shirt, a work shirt or a paint shirt. I design T-shirts people want to wear again.”

Terpstra, who works for Progressive Design Apparel, also designed the shirt for the popular Santa Speedo Run in December. He said he likes working for nonprofit groups that help the LGBT community.

“It’s really fun and it’s nice to help out for a good cause,” Terpstra said. “It can be very humbling to see hundreds of people wearing your design.”

Last year, the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas beat its $150,000 goal and raised $193,000. The goal this year is a lofty $200,000. The money is used for myriad of educational programs and services for men, women and children who are HIV-positive, including a mobile testing unit. The organization, in its 26th year, offers assistance to patients in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) ranks the Tampa/St. Pete area 17th in the nation for HIV infection. Florida is third overall and second for pediatric infections.

“The AIDS Walk is an important reminder for us all,” said Aller, the event organizer. “With the advancement of medications, AIDS has taken a backseat, but it’s as dangerous of a life sentence as it used to be and we need to remind people it’s still out there and affecting all of us.”

From our media partner Watermark

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Greg Kabel