Annual AIDS walk set for Sept. 15

Photo courtesy: Big Bend Cares

Supporters of HIV/AIDS will have an opportunity to walk for a cause on Thursday,

The annual walk will take place along the Southwood Nature Trails as part of Big Bend
Cares, in partnership with Neighborhood Medical Center and Bond Community Health

The theme of this year’s walk is “March into the future,” which encourages participants
to consider the challenges they have encountered in the past while picking up the
pieces to build a better future. Community members, faith groups, students and
members of school and university organizations are all welcome to participate in this

Participants can sign up to walk individually or as a team. Although participation is
appreciated, walkers are encouraged to become fundraisers to help Big Bend Cares to
reach its goal. You can also purchase a shirt to walk in during this event. The cost is
$10. All funds from the t-shirts will go toward the proceeds of the walk.

The event’s proceeds assist Big Bend Cares in offering direct care services to its
beneficiaries as well as HIV prevention and education for the eight-county Big Bend
region. Proceeds can also help provide food and transportation to those in need.

One out of every 172 adults are living with HIV/AIDS in the Big Bend area.

“More than 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, with 1 in 7 of them not even
aware that they have the disease,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Big Bend Cares spoke on why they walk.

“We walk for the more than 100,000 people living with HIV in Florida. We walk to
remember those who no longer can. We walk to remind you that you’re not alone. We
walk for a nation. We walk to educate. We walk for change.”

Serene Smallwood, a community volunteer and events coordinator for Big Bend Cares,
said she’s eager for this year’s walk, the organization’s 32nd.

“The AIDS walk typically brings out a few hundred people and if we get more than that,
then that would be even better. I am most excited about the walk being at Southwood
Nature Trails because this is our first time hosting our event there,” she said.

Big Bend Cares is teaming up with Chipotle on West Tennessee Street from 4-8 p.m. on
Sept. 7 and with Blaze pizza on Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. for those who can’t but still want to donate to the event’s success.

All purchases made in support of the walk will be donated to Big Bend Cares.

The walk will start at the intersection of Ivy Green Trail and Grove Park Drive, and once
it is over everyone will gather together to listen to speakers and music. The walk will
begin at 6:30 p.m.