This year’s AIDS Walk & Music Festival hasn’t even stepped off yet, but it’s already a huge success on many levels.
From generating a buzz among seasoned walkers and first-timers alike, getting big stars to play the event, and raising more money than hoped for, the return of The Walk is taking huge strides.
After having to cancel last year due to the pandemic there were concerns about how to make a return and raise enough money to give to agencies serving the HIV-positive community.
Turns out, they didn’t need to worry.
Last year they raised three million dollars despite the event being canceled. This year they set a goal of $1.5 million and have already blown past that figure before the festivities. The annual event is organized by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
“The financial success of the Florida AIDS Walk is reflected in the giving spirit of this community,” Imara Canady of AHF said. “To have attained this goal, absent the physical walk taking place, can be attributed to thousands of individuals that recognize the importance of their individual and collective fundraising, and the impact that these dollars continue to have in support of organizations that are making a difference in our local community.”
The success of this year, after a time when many businesses had to cut back on philanthropic giving is even more remarkable.
“It also speaks to the corporate social responsibility of the corporate community, not only in South Florida, but across the country that also recognizes the importance of this event and the impact these dollars have in combating the increasing HIV epidemic happening in South Florida,” Canady said.
The event is set for Saturday, April 24 at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the Walk steps off at 10 a.m. Social distancing and COVID safety measures will be in place. For an updated list of protocols, as well as how to register and donate, visit their website at FloridaAidsWalk.org.
“All of our teams have continued to be creative and innovative in how they approach fundraising, recognizing that no donation is too small, as it all goes towards a great cause and addressing a critical public health issue for this community,” Canady said. “And with the dollar-for-dollar match given by AHF, it's also a great feeling for any donor to know their contribution is doubled.”
After the walking comes the dancing.
As walkers complete the 5k, they’ll move and groove over the finish line to the sounds of DJ Alex Ferbeyre. Later South Florida’s own Trina will take the stage.
Event organizers are thrilled to have Lil’ Kim coming as this year’s headliner. She was supposed to perform at last year’s event, and Imara said her team worked with organizers to make it happen this year.
“She and her team were very committed to doing what they could to confirm her for this year’s event,” he said. “Her performance, combined with that of South Florida’s own Trina, will sure be an electrifying musical experience for all of our attendees.”
Even though the AIDS crisis has fallen from the headlines, Imara said events like this are important for keeping people focused on a crisis that is growing, and hitting South Florida especially hard.
South Florida is known as the epicenter of the nation's HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“Though our nation is in the midst of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still seeing a steady increase in new HIV diagnosis, especially in communities across the South,” Canady said. “Events like the Florida AIDS Walk not only help to raise the critical funds that organizations like those that benefit from the walk desperately need, but also is a time to keep awareness around the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
This year’s beneficiaries include AIDS Healthcare Foundation; Equality Florida Institute; Latinos Salud; The Pride Center at Equality Park; SAVE Foundation; SunServe; and World AIDS Museum and Educational Center.
Visit FloridaAidsWalk.org for more information.