BY PAUL SCHINDLER
For the 35th year in a row, GMHC is hosting an AIDS Walk to raise funds for the group’s prevention, care, and advocacy work as well as that of several other HIV/ AIDS service organizations that participate. AIDS Walk is the group’s largest annual fundraiser.
COVID-19, of course, has thrown the group a curve ball given the ban, through June at least, on large group gatherings in the city. In past years, the event has featured a 10k walk through Central Park and the Upper West Side accompanied by an alternative 5-mile run through the park.
As with so many events this spring, the AIDS Walk will now be a virtual happening — on June 7 rather than the originally scheduled May 17. Beginning at 10 a.m., the event will be live-streamed on several online platforms, uniting, in the group’s words, “walkers” from their homes “to be with one another -— and to be there for one another.” The webcast will feature remarks from elected officials, AIDS advocates, and celebrity guests as well as performances and a DJ-led dance party.
Last year’s event included appearances by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, MJ Rodriguez and Billy Porter from “Pose,” Brian Stokes Mitchell from “Shuffle Along,” “Ragtime,” and many other Broadway shows, Bonnie Milligan from “Head Over Heels,” and Selenis Leyva and Dale Soules from “Orange is the New Black.”
In addition to GMHC’s customary programming, AIDS Walk proceeds this year will also help fund the special efforts the group is making in response to the coronavirus crisis. With many of its clients facing food insecurity and accustomed to visiting the agency for its weekday meals program and to secure packaged meals through its pantry, the agency is delivering thousands of meals to its clients’ homes through its “GMHC on the Go” effort. And through regular wellness calls to its more than 1,200 clients, it is delivering mental health, substance use, workforce development, supportive housing, and other services.
In its 34 previous AIDS Walks, GMHC has engaged nearly 890,000 participants and raised just under $155 million. Last year, more than 15,000 walkers and runners raised in excess of $4 million.
Participants for this year’s AIDS Walk can register at ny.aidswalk.net.
This story first appeared on gaycitynews.com.