Prizm News / April 15, 2019 / By Ken Schneck
Three different Ohio AIDS Walks combine into one successful event.
By Ken Schneck
Nearly 1000 participants. Millions of steps. Hundreds of thousands of dollars donated. An incalculable amount of awareness raised for HIV/AIDS prevention and care.
All in a day’s work for the 2019 Robert J. Fass AIDS Walk Ohio.
On Saturday, April 13, the Central Ohio, Dayton, and Toledo AIDS Walks were all consolidated into one statewide walk, the largest such event in Ohio history. The combined new walk was an overwhelming success, bringing in donations to the tune of $271,000.
Art Hanthorn was the top fundraising participant this year, raising $6,261 for AIDS Walk Ohio. Over the past 25 years since his brother passed away due to AIDS-related complications, he has raised over $20,000.
“HIV/AIDS has touched so many and it does not care about race, religion, sex, nationality, wealth, or who you love,” says Hanthorn. “We need to help those still fighting HIV/AIDS, so that they have a full and healthy life.”
The route featured signs detailing the science behind U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) and frequently asked questions about HIV and AIDS in order to raise awareness and educate.
“The signage on the route made me feel informed and empowered. It was a great day,” says Zoe Fawcett who ran her first 5K at the event on Saturday.
Over 30,000 people have participated in the event since its inception in 1989. For three decades, the Columbus-based AIDS Walk Ohio has raised millions of dollars and an immeasurable amount of awareness for HIV/AIDS service organizations through educational and promotional activities leading up to the walk and through the participation of walkers, runners, civic leaders, corporations, and community members all coming together for the annual event. This year, the event raised funds for Equitas Health programs, Nationwide Children’s Hospital FACES program, and the OSU AIDS Clinical Trials Unit.
The name of the event honors the legacy of the late Dr. Robert J. Fass, an internationally respected scientist and teacher whose work spanned the field of infectious diseases from laboratory assessment of new antibiotic to clinical trails of anti-invectives. Dr. Fass was the Principal Investigator of the Ohio State University AIDS Clinical Trials Unit since its inception in 1989 and trained dozens of hundreds of residents and students to work in the field of infectious diseases.
With AIDS Project Los Angeles holding the world’s first AIDS walk in 1985, these events were ever-present—and life-saving—throughout the late 1980s, the entirety of the 90s, and a good part of the new millennium in nearly every major city. Then one by one, AIDS Walks were discontinued due to lower participation and, in many peoples’ opinions, a declining sense of urgency. Currently, AIDS Walk Ohio is one of the last unicorns in the country. Thankfully, there are no plans to cancel this annual tradition any time soon.