With the sun shining bright and water bottles in hand, more than 400 people walked “One Step Toward a Solution” as they marched through downtown Ann Arbor yesterday afternoon.

Paul Wong
Eastern Michigan University sophomore Linda Simwenyi chats Sunday before participating in the Michigan AIDS Walk in downtown Ann Arbor.

As music, food and balloons enhanced the festive atmosphere, people gathered to celebrate AIDS awareness and raise money to support various groups focusing on HIV/AIDS throughout the community. People participated in the AIDS Walk to support the Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan, the HIV/AIDS Resource Center and the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, including people from the University community.

The main goal of the walk was to raise “awareness and money, which will go to direct care for people affected with HIV/AIDS and for outreach, which is to raise awareness within the community,” Diane Moore, a representative from the HIV/AIDS Resource Center, said.

Circle K, Project Serve, Project Community and Women in Science and Engineering were the main representatives from the University community. Justin Schmandt, an LSA senior and volunteer for the walk, became involved by initially “starting through Project Community and publicizing about the walk by putting up posters around campus, recruiting students and student organizations such as Project Serve and Alpha Phi Omega to participate.”

For some, volunteering for the AIDS walk has been a long term process.

While some students participated through various student organizations around campus or through friends’ encouragement to join, some had been volunteering for the walk since early summer.

Andrea Geiman, a volunteer for Ann Arbor AIDS Walk Committee and a second-year graduate student at the School of Social Work, said she had been involved since June as a recruiter. “I recruited 50 teams, made up of three to four members to 56 member teams.”

Starting at the Edison Parking Lot, the AIDS Walk was a 5-kilometer walk that traveled through downtown Ann Arbor.

“Front Line Church and Ann Arbor Jay Cees were our main sponsors. Local companies, schools, churches and organizations were invited to walk to increase community awareness and raise the funds necessary to support local programs,” Moore said. The slogan of the walk was to take “One Step Toward a Solution.” Food was all donated by various local stores and T-shirt sales also benefited the organizations. Awards, prizes and more activities took place after the walk.

Some students simply participated because the walk presented an important cause to support. Courtney Bonam, an LSA junior and president of the Undergraduate Psychological Society, brought her organization to participate because “we feel that it will benefit the community and it is a good cause to support.”

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