CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The 23rd Annual AIDS Walk Charlotte will be held on May 4 in Uptown Charlotte at the Wells Fargo Plaza & Atrium. Considered one of the largest HIV awareness and fundraising events in the Carolinas, it is expected to draw upwards of 1,300 participants.
The community will trek through the nearly two-mile course to provide a visual representation of the region’s commitment to caring for neighbors in need and slowing the spread of HIV. Participants are offered the opportunity to wear “honor beads” of various colors to signify their connection to the cause — whether they’re attending the AIDS Walk as someone living with HIV themselves, as someone who’s lost a loved one or simply to show their support.
The event opens with registration and check-in at 9 a.m., followed by an opening ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Afterwards, participants will head out at 11 a.m. to begin their fundraising effort’s work to fruition. At noon when walkers return, the total monies raised will be announced.
Families are encouraged to bring their children. In addition to a breakfast food truck being on site to fuel walkers before the event, Sir Purr and Homer the Dragon are also expected to attend.
There is no registration fee to participate in the walk, but attendees must raise a minimum of $25 to receive an official AIDS Walk T-shirt. The fundraiser’s goal is $160,000, which will go toward continuing RAIN’s mission of empowering youth and adults living with HIV and those at risk to live healthy and stigma free.
“Yes, we’re raising money, but we’re also bringing the community together to help fight stigma,” said Nathan Smith, RAIN’s vice president of philanthropy. “It can be unnerving to stand up for any cause, but when you have 1,300 people standing next to you, behind you and in front of you to support those living with HIV and those at risk, there’s power in numbers.”
HIV is still an issue in the local community, Smith added. On average, six new cases a week are reported in Mecklenburg County.
“AIDS Walk Charlotte benefits people who don’t feel like they have a voice in the community,” Smith said. “The walk helps them realize their voices can be heard and need to be heard, and that they are valued.”
AIDS Walk Charlotte, sponsored by Wells Fargo and WCCB Charlotte’s CW, is a family affair open to all who want to participate. To learn more, visit aidswalkcharlotte.org.
For more information on RAIN and its services, visit carolinarain.org.