Sweating for a cause, nearly 700 students, faculty members and Elm City residents swarmed the New Haven Green on Sunday morning to participate in the fourth annual AIDS Walk in New Haven.
The event — a 5-kilometer walk through the city — is sponsored each year by the Yale chapter of AIDS Watch and is designed to raise funds for 10 local HIV and AIDS service organizations, which comprise the New Haven Mayor’s Task Force on AIDS. This year, participants raised a total of over $30,000, an increase from last year’s event.
“I think it was an excellent success, not only because of the money raised but also because of the number of participants,” said Justin Berk ’10, a member of the organizing committee.
Organizers said they were pleased with the overwhelming number of participants, citing an increase of 200 people since the event started in 2005.
AIDS Walk is also focused on raising awareness about the disease, both among Yale students and in the greater New Haven community.
Monica Enamandram ’09, one of the event’s coordinators, said the event is an effective way to unite the Yale and New Haven communities in the fight against the disease.
“It is really to bring attention to HIV/AIDS as a public-health issue and to raise money for the cause,” she said.
Committee members said increased awareness is particularly necessary for the city: New Haven has the second-highest rate of AIDS cases in Connecticut.
“This is a great program because it addresses a major global public-health concern which greatly affects New Haven,” Berk said.
The walk, which saw participants stroll the streets of downtown New Haven, started at 2 p.m. yesterday and ended at 3:30. Prior to the walk, participants raised money by asking for donations, either individually or in teams, from family, friends and colleagues.
Participants interviewed said they were excited by the chance to spread awareness and help raise funds to combat the disease.
“A lot of people suffer from HIV/AIDS, and not a lot of people know as much about the virus and disease as they should,” participant Charlotte Renfield-Miller ’10 said. “It helps find a new cure, raise awareness, get people involved and create a support system.”
But Rob Nelb ’08 said the best part of the event was not the fundraising but simply the afternoon walk itself. He said bringing the community together for an afternoon in the name of public health is a great opportunity, and worthwhile in itself.
“I think the best part of the walk is the walk itself … and getting a lot of people together from all different parts of the community to recognize health,” he said.
Nelb is a staff columnist for the News.
AIDS Walk New Haven was started in 2005 by a group of Yale undergraduates who wanted to connect with their local community. The members of the New Haven Mayor’s Task Force on AIDS — which will receive the funds raised by the event — are AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Project New Haven, Leeway Inc., Hill Health Center, Hispanos Unidos, Liberty Community Services, New Haven Home Recovery, Fair Haven Community Health Center, Planned Parenthood and Visiting Nurse Association.