Everyone has their own story about why they participate in AIDS Walk. What's yours?
Here are a few of your fellow walker's stories:
"I am a proud survivor of 21 years. I participate in the walk every year to show people my strength and to give someone else hope that is living with the disease. My life has changed due to the disease, but if I don't let my voice be heard I am just as guilty as the person that gave it to me." ~Tiffany Quinton,HIV/AIDS Educational Speaker
|L-R: Jim Konetsky, Julie Eberly, and Gary Grier.|
"I am walking in honor my dear friend, Jim Konetsky, who passed away on January 2nd after a long life living and surviving with HIV/AIDS. He was the ombudsman at God’s Love We Deliver in New York City for many years, and we met on the conference circuit when I was project managing Stone Soup. Jim took his vacation one year to come work for us for a week at AFH as a volunteer and participated in the walk. He always donated $100.00 each year to my Walk page and contributed to our CEO's Walk page as well. He also raised over $1,000 on his own Walk page. Jim was such an inspiration. I am honored to walk in his memory this year." ~ Gary Grier
"I struggled with saying this, because this disease--just like all other diseases--IS NOT and MUST NOT BE MADE political. Even so, in post-Nov 2016 America, I am concerned about a rise in the stigma against HIV-positive individuals, potential dimunition of health care options and/or ability for them to pay the costs, decreasing access to affordable housing and healthy food choices, etc. In short, everything that AFH stands for. That is why I support this organization and hope you will too." ~ Van Lessig
"When I was a college junior and still learning my footing in the LGBT community, I worked as an assistant for a lawyer at his private practice. He was a man in his late 50s, and he took me under his wing to teach me about what it was like to grow up in the 80s and 90s watching the HIV/AIDS epidemic claim many of his friends. He always impressed upon me the importance of raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and the need for testing. He also helped instill in me the idea that just because someone may be HIV+, they don't deserve the stigma or shame that too often is associated with the disease.
As it turns out, those little life lessons he taught me would become personal. Over the years, more and more of my friends and colleagues told me about their status as living with HIV. I always took it as an honor that they felt comfortable talking to me about something so personal and revealing their vulnerable side to me.
My experience with HIV/AIDS became even more personal when one of my closest friends passed away from an AIDS-related complication. His death was a brutal reality that AIDS is a nondiscriminatory virus that affects everyone.
I walk and donate in honor of my fallen friend. I walk and donate in honor of all the others who have lost a loved one just like I have. I walk and donate so that future generations hopefully won't have to experience what my mentor experienced. I walk and donate to show my solidarity with those who are living with this virus and for the ones who support them. I walk and donate because it's an easy way to make a huge difference in my life and for everyone else.
To be knowledgeable about the disease is a good start, but it's not enough. We also must work together to increase HIV education and prevention, fund research, eliminate stigma, and encourage testing. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to each other to stop this disease. That's why I donate, and that's why I walk." ~Sam Byrd
"I am a member of Resurrection MCC. We have several church members that are living with HIV. I walk to support them and to support the work of the church." ~ Anonymous
"I do HIV outreach in classrooms educating young (13-23 year old) men--mostly Black & Latino--about HIV/AIDS and other STIs. I know some of those I work with will invariably become infected. I walk because I want to see this end." ~ Baylor Teen Health Clinic Social Worker
"When I was coming to grips with being gay in the early 1980s, I joined an LGBT fitness group to make friends while improving my health and athletic abilities. I made a great many friends there, including some very dear ones. Ten years later, AIDS had killed more than half of them—as well as my first lover. I support AIDS Walk to remember them and in the hope we can end the disease that took their lives." ~ Tom
"I have lost several friends over the years so joined Fundación Latinoamericanas de Acción Social and began participating in AIDS Walk Houston to help those living with HIV and to help prevent young Latino men from becoming infected." ~ Anonymous
"I’ve long been involved with the LGBT community and have known people affected by the disease. I have participated in AIDS Walk events in other cities for years, so when I moved to Houston late year it was a given that I would here as well." ~ Anonymous