AIDS Foundation of WMA Announces Exciting Changes for Annual AIDS Walk/5k Run & Festival

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aids_wmaSPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts (AFWM) is proud to announce that the 17th Annual AIDS Walk/5K Run & Festival will take place on Saturday, October 5th at Riverfront Park in downtown Springfield.

“We are very excited about the changes we’ve made to the event this year,” says AFWM Executive Director Jessica R. Crevier. “The later date will allow us to reach out to the many colleges in our community. Since half of all new HIV infections in the United States occur in people 25 year old and younger, this is an important demographic for AFWM to connect with. And the new venue will create more visibility for both our mission and our generous sponsors. We are eager to raise awareness by walking through the streets of the North End, where so many people that we support reside.”

Additionally, in response to the growing number of runners who attend the event, this year’s 5k run will be timed and results will be posted on the AFWM website. Prizes will be awarded to the first male and first female to cross the finish line. [pullquote]”Since half of all new HIV infections in the United States occur in people 25 year old and younger, this is an important demographic for AFWM to connect with.” —Jessica R. Crevier[/pullquote]

This year’s event will also include a walk route lined with local performers, including musicians, magicians, and clowns. Participants will return to a festival featuring a free barbecue lunch and live music by The John Brandoli Band. Families will enjoy a children’s area with games, prizes, crafts, and more. All members of the community are encouraged to stop by and take advantage of free and confidential HIV testing and learn more about the many service organizations that will be tabling.

As one of only two major fundraisers supporting AFWM, the AIDS Walk/5k Run & Festival is crucial. 100% of funds raised by walkers and runners provide emergency financial assistance to people who are living with HIV/AIDS in Hampden and Hampshire counties. It allows the Foundation to help countless individuals who struggle with affording basic costs such as rent, medical bills, utilities, necessary furnishings like mattresses, disability accommodations, and more. Proceeds also support educational programs that help our neighbors who are HIV negative to remain that way.

Robert Prattico, an AIDS Walk attendee states: “People underestimate the daily obstacles caused by HIV/AIDS. It is a serious disability that takes away time and energy for basic daily tasks that people easily take for granted. Most who struggle with the illness receive little income to afford various costs of living. The AIDS Foundation provides a financial option where and when there is nothing else.” [pullquote]100% of funds raised by walkers and runners provide emergency financial assistance to people who are living with HIV/AIDS in Hampden and Hampshire counties.[/pullquote]

The people living with HIV/AIDS in our community need support now more than ever. With the current state of the economy and the increased prevalence of the virus in our area, more and more HIV positive individuals turn to the Foundation for support. On October 5th, 2013 Western Massachusetts has the opportunity to lend its support and walk/run for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Participants are encouraged to start their own team by inviting friends, family, co-workers, church members, and running-mates. AFWM is dedicated to continuing to improve upon the timing process and welcomes more and more runners each year.

Todd Porter, an avid runner and Walk/Run Planning Committee member, explains, “Running is a strange endeavor for me. While it is a very personal activity, it is also communal. When I’m running a race, whether it’s a 5k or a marathon, there is always a sense of community and so much power in a group of people all striving for the same finish line. The AIDS Walk is so important as a runner because it gives a cause behind that community and allows the community to strive towards not only a physical finish line, but for a finish line that provides a dignity and quality of life for members of that community.”

Participants can register themselves or a walking/running team and create a personalized fundraising page by logging on to www.runreg.com/Net/3594. More information is available at www.aidsfoundationwm.org and www.facebook.com/events/486322971448906/. You can also reach the AFWM office at (413) 301-0955.

AFWM would like to thank the generous sponsors of this year’s AIDS Walk/5k Run & Festival, including Gale Toyota, Walgreens, American Homecare Federation, Todd M. LeMieux Designs, Bruce Wintam, MD & Jonna Gaberman, MD, Gilead Sciences, Health New England, Imperial Court of Massachusetts- Western Division, New England Orthopedic Surgeons, Peter Pan Bus Lines, Baystate Health, MassMutual, The Research Institute, The Rainbow Times, and The Valley Advocate, and TV22.

The mission of the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Inc. is to create positive community impact through innovative and empowering education and support in Hampden and Hampshire counties. The ultimate aim is to end the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

[From a News Release]