AIDS Walk hopes to grow under new management

By Crystal A. Proxmire

ROYAL OAK -

AIDS Walk Detroit is under new management and kicking off 2012 with some big resolutions for the year. Their goals are to have 3,500 walkers and to raise $200,000 to help funding for organizations that deal with HIV/AIDS related issues.

Going forward Steppin' Out will be managed by HELP (Health Emergency Lifeline Program), a non-profit, community-based organization that provides essential services for people who are at-risk, infected or affected by HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis C. HELP works with over 1,200 clients each year to provide food and nutrition assistance, housing services, case management, utility assistance, mental health counseling and other resources. HELP has had AIDS Walk Teams in the past, and offered to step in to consolidate management efforts.

Maxwell Cameron, program coordinator at HELP is administering Steppin' Out fundraisers including AIDS Walk Detroit. Cameron said the arrangement will help Steppin' Out maximize resources like time and money. "As a direct care provider since 1986, HELP is competent to manage this organization, and has that direct contact with individuals in the community we are working to help," he said. "This will save money on administrative costs, and we can spend our time and resources helping the event grow."

The goals this year are big ones. Last year AIDS Walk Detroit hosted 2,500 walkers, and raised over $165,000. This year Cameron says they hope to attract an additional 1,000 walkers and bring the proceeds up to $200,000.

"It's a big goal, but I think we can do it. We're bringing in new agencies this year, including Ruth Ellis Center," Cameron said. "With funding for HIV/AIDS services declining, it is now more important than ever that we remain committed to making this event successful for all the groups involved."

Though there is new leadership, the premise of AIDS Walk Detroit remains the same. Organizations form teams and collect pledges for the walk. They each keep 97 percent of the money they raise. The remainder goes towards a fund for specific grant requests.

AIDS Walk Detroit will take place on Sunday, Sept. 16 at the Farmers Market in Royal Oak.

How to get involved

There are three ways to help the organization achieve their goals for the year. One option is to become a sponsor. It helps towards fundraising and gives exposure to the businesses and groups that are lending a hand. Corporate sponsorships start at $1000.

Another way to get involved is to volunteer. They are currently looking for dedicated supporters that would be able to give 4-6 hours per month helping to plan AIDS Walk Detroit 2012 and associated events. There are openings on the Event Planning Committee, Participation Committee, Media and Marketing Committee, and Corporate Sponsorship Committee. They are also are looking for volunteers to help plan other events including the 3rd annual Step Inside the Box silent auction gala and the Strike Out AIDS Bowl-A-Thon. On the day of the walk, volunteers are needed to help with registration, set up and take down, security, and other tasks.

And of course they need teams and individuals to walk. Go to aidswalkdetroit.org and click "register" to sign up for AIDS Walk Detroit 2012 and start fundraising. Consider also starting your own Walk Team by signing up as a walk team captain.

Last year's funds

Last year's teams went home with over $83,000 in total raised, broken down as follows: Access $735; Affirmations Community Center, $13,849.92; ANAC, $670; Beaumont Health System, $1,859.99; DEAF Can, $1,781; DMC-WSU Project Challenge, $1,114.99; Health Emergency Lifeline Programs (HELP), $41,368.55; Higher Ground, $5,045.01; Michigan AIDS Coalition, 5,747.93; Moms in Motion, $315; OLHSA, $2,269.74; Ruth Ellis Center, $915; Stitches Doll Project, $2,132; Visiting Nurses Association, $2,182; WINGS, $2,520.01; WSU-DMC Clinic, $575.

To find out more about getting involved, contact Steppin' Out at 248-399-WALK (9255) or by email at info@aidswalkdetroit.org.

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