This weekend thousands of red shoes will be walking around Miami Beach, joining together in solidarity to fight HIV/AIDS, at the 26th Annual AIDS Walk Miami.
Joining the walk as master of ceremonies is Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and from Bravo’s hit series “Real Housewives of Miami,” television personality Alexia Echevarria, as the grand marshall.
She spoke of what this fundraiser means to her.
“I am honored to have been selected to be the grand marshall of the AIDS Walk Miami. I feel that through fundraising efforts like this I can help raise awareness, bring hope and build a sense of community. Many people living with HIV/AIDS in our community simply cannot afford medical care and treatment and need our help.”
The walk is presented by Care Resource, a non-profit organization that is the oldest and biggest HIV/AIDS service organization in South Florida, currently serving over 9,000 clients, according to the AIDS Walk Miami website.
Their goal is to raise funds, awareness and support that will put them, “One Step Closer to a Cure” as this year’s theme declares. They aim to have between three and four thousand participants in the walk and the target goal is to raise $280,000.
Jonathan Welsh, marketing and development manager for Care Resource said he’s excited about reaching the goal for participants and money, but is thrilled about this year’s grand marshall and master of ceremonies partakers.
The AIDS Walk Miami will be held at the Miami Beach Convention Center located at 1901 Convention Center Drive. This event is a 5K (3.1 mile) “walk-a-thon” fundraiser that helps HIV/AIDS patients through Care Resource and Food for Life Network. All proceeds go to helping the HIV positive residents of Miami-Dade and Broward Counties with expenses.
Ann Eustace walks every year in honor of her boyfriend’s brother Tommy, who died in the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 80s.
“He was a beautiful and spirited man. His spirit lives on through these walks and through the advancement in treatment. Those that benefit from the fundraising dollars raised are a tribute to him. His spirit is there and his memory is honored,” she said. “AIDS Walk Miami is a great service to the community. All the people who come out year after year for this community event are super.”
Although HIV/AIDS care and treatment has progressed over the years and the effectiveness has increased, these two counties still have the highest rates of new HIV/AIDS infected patients in the nation.
HIV/AIDS is always growing and changing therefore causing an ever urgent need for the community to come together in support of raising awareness, education, prevention, research and treatment.
The walk starts outside the Convention Center at 9 a.m. and registration begins at 8 a.m. The walk will conclude at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, which will host a post celebration on their lush 2.6 acre garden in the heart of South Beach. There will be live performances from Periko and Jessie Leon as well as music from DJ Mauricio Parra.
This post event, sponsored by MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, will also have an adopt a pet from the Miami-Dade Animal Services, complimentary massages, beverages, goodies and more.
There will also be an official after party, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Clevelander Hotel, in which a percentage of all sales will go to AIDS Walk Miami.
For those wanting to participate in the general and “sleep walker” (non-walking) levels, there is a $25 registration fee. Raise a minimum of $50 and receive a complementary AIDS Walk Miami commemorative t-shirt. For kids the registration fee is waived and they may raise a minimum of $25 for the complimentary commemorative t-shirt.
“We are so grateful for the continued support of so many throughout the South Florida areas that walk each year to help raise the much needed funds,” Welsh said.
Visit AIDSMiami.org to register or for more info.