The 27th annual event, which raises money for 30 HIV/AIDS organizations in the Delaware Valley, will take place Oct. 20, starting at Eakins Oval in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The 5K run will start at 8 a.m., with the 12K walk setting off at 9 a.m.
Runners are encouraged to turn in their sponsor sheets and donations at 7 a.m., and 7:30 a.m. for walkers. Early check-in will take place from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Oct. 17 and 18 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 19 at the headquarters of event organizer AIDS Fund, 1315 Spruce St., fourth floor.
AIDS Fund executive director Robb Reichard said the organization expects to raise $500,000.
AIDS Fund recently launched a web series titled “AIDS in Philly” to spread the word about the epidemic and the event.
Reichard noted that one in five people living with HIV don’t know they are infected, and that gay and bisexual men, especially in urban areas, continue to be hardest hit.
“One of our messages, in addition to encouraging people to come out to the walk, is it is important to get tested,” Reichard said.
At the event itself, participants can expect a number of returning traditions, as well as new features.
There will be a yoga session starting at 7:15 a.m. and another at 8 a.m., followed by a Zumba warm-up at 8:45 a.m. The opening ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m.
Reichard said the day will start off with the traditional reading of the names, which honors those who died of HIV/AIDS, at 7:30 a.m. There will also be 25 panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display.
Reichard said this year, the organization will include donation stations for people who haven’t yet registered or raised funds. The stations will allow participants to donate money on the spot in place of having raised funds.
AIDS Fund also included new incentives for various donation levels, including a T-shirt and sunglasses for people who have raised $250 or more, an AIDS Walk Philly sweatshirt for those who raised $500 or more and an AIDS Walk Philly track jacket for those who raised $1,000 or more.
Reichard said the event is inclusive to all different groups of people and said he expects participants of all ages and from all communities to turn out.
“The LGBT community has been involved with AIDS Walk since the very beginning and we need to see that the community stays involved and remains visible,” he said. “It has always been one of our goals that the event is open and welcoming for young people because young people are at high risk as well. We are always proud of the number of college/university and high-school students who participate.”
While the event has evolved in its 27 years, Reichard said its importance in combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic has not changed.
“We have an ongoing epidemic that doesn’t get the attention that it once did. While we have made tremendous strides, we continue to stigmatize people with HIV/AIDS and we need to make sure people infected and affected have accessible services.”
For more information, visit www.aidsrunphilly.org or www.aidswalkphilly.org.