Gorgeous weather and concerned athletes teamed up Sunday morning to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.
The 19th annual AIDS Walk/Run was held at Beaver Lake Nature Center as the finale of the week long "Paint the Town Red" campaign, which informs adolescents about the disease. This June marks the 30th year anniversary of the first diagnosis of AIDS, and several groups made it their duty to create an amazing turnout at the event.
The event originated to fund the Teenage Task Force, a group that influenced adolescents to make good decisions. Now, the event is about AIDS prevention and support.
"My goal for today is that the conversation continues," said Aids Community Resource Director Michael Crinnin. "That parents keep talking, church leaders keep talking and teachers keep talking about staying safe from AIDS."
Before the race started, swarms of people went in and out of tents, Hot 107.9 DJs Marty and Shannon blared music, a Zumba fitness warm-up was under way and more than 1,200 participants gathered for the AIDS Walk/Run. Each year, AIDS Community Resources generates about $300,000 for AIDS support and prevention, over half of which usually comes from this event. However, this year the event generated $186,591, topping last year.
"Companies paid for the event fundraising," said Wil Murtaugh, a veteran ACR member. "So every dollar people brought in went directly to foundations."
The ace sponsors for the event were UPS and Empower Federal Credit Union, but other companies found a way to help as well. Wegmans provided breakfast to participants, FOX 68 gave out AIDS awareness shirts and Frisbees, Innovations Salon installed red hair extensions, Fleet Feet Sports raffled off running shoes, and Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists prevented any muscle pulls with post-run sports massages.
In addition to company support, local legend Todd Hobin composed and performed a new song titled "One Voice" to follow the moment of silence remembering those affected by AIDS. Hobin blended a sentimental acoustic sound with deep, inspirational lyrics to lull the crowd into a thought-provoking daze.