When organizers reach the 30th year of an event like AIDS Walk, it’s difficult to call it an anniversary – that sounds too celebratory. For those who are living with HIV/AIDS, it might indeed be that. But for many others, it’s a time to reflect on the work that they have done to fight HIV/AIDS.

The 2018 fundraising season actually began with the Nov. 29, 2017, World AIDS Luncheon. That event alone raised $94,000 toward this year’s goal.  https://kansascity.outvoices.us/2017/10/31/a-chance-to-mark-world-aids-day-here-at-home.

Michael Lintecum, AIDS Walk event director, and Josh Strodtman, AIDS Walk associate director, along with the AIDS Service Foundation board and volunteers have been busy since then. First was the AIDS Walk 2018 Kickoff Party in January, then team leader workshops, and now they’re on to the March 4 AIDS Walk Open Mini-Golf Pub Crawl.

If you see this story before March 4, there is still time to register a team online at www.aidswalkopen.org, or show up at Missie B’s before 10 a.m. March 4 and sign up that day.

The event starts at 10. The 12 bars participating are Bistro 303, Char Bar, Dave’s Stagecoach Inn, Hamburger Mary’s, Hop Cat, Kelly’s Westport Inn, Missie B’s, Ragazza, Sidekicks, The Foundry, Uptown Arts Bar and Woody’s. The bars get to design their own creative mini-golf holes. Buses will transport people from bar to bar.

Participants get together in teams of four, and many dress up in creative team costumes. Registration is $180 for a team of four; you will also need to bring your own putter and golf ball.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams and the “best dressed” team. The grand prize is a case of Miller Lite for each of the four team members every month for a year. Other prizes include gift certificates for Café Trio, Bistro 303 and more.

Michael Lintecum and Josh Strodtman. Photo: J. Long

At our press time, 90 teams were registered. The goal is 120 teams, and both Lintecum and Strodtman feel they will get there with many onsite registrations.

In addition to putting together all the other events that bring money in to meet the AIDS Walk goal, they are building on existing events.

“We are enhancing what we do with World AIDS Day in the fall,” said Lintecum. “We have done really well with that effort. We have grown the committee to include more community folks helping us make contact with new donor groups.”

Organizers carefully consider the amount of work required for an event compared to how much money it raises. The AIDS Bicycle Cruise, for example, ended with the 2016 ride because it required a lot of work compared to the fund tally. AIDS Walk Open, on the other hand, raises around $20,000 in just the one-day event.

The annual Mosaic tile fundraiser will continue this year. It involves local youth, artists and volunteers creating more than 1,000 glazed square tiles and ceramic pieces depicting how they feel about the project’s theme, “A World Without AIDS.” Mosaic 2018 will be April 6 on First Friday in the Crossroads at an art gallery, 2020 Baltimore, in Kansas City.

AIDS Walk Kansas City is raises about $500,000 annually through the walk and other events. Those events include the House Party on June 24, the KC Artists Against AIDS and their annual “KC Strips” fundraiser, “Out with the Royals” in September, events at Bistro 303 and more, even some sponsored by individual team members.

Strodtman said that the walkers who raise $1,000 or more will be invited to a thank you party at the Argosy Casino on May 24.

“In 2019, when the Gay World Series is here, the AIDS Service Foundation is their beneficiary,” said Strodtman.

Instead of calling this year’s AIDS Walk a 30-year anniversary, Lintecum said, “We call it more of a recognition of 30 years of walking or an observance. The distinction of AIDS Walk Kansas City is historic in that it is one of the longest-running walks in the country.”

This year’s walk has two honorary chairs – S. Sloane Simmons, past president of the AIDS Service Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and Jacque Bredius, a longtime fundraiser and the largest single donor in AIDS Walk history.

“We’re also doing a special walk team, which is kind of fun,” said Lintecum. “It’s all former AIDS Walk co-chairs.  If someone is reading this article and has not been contacted, please contact AIDS Walk. Heading up that effort are two former chairpeople, J.P. Crilly and Ryan Gove.

Both Lintecum and Strodtman also ask that people who want names listed on the AIDS Walk Memorial flags to contact them before the walk.

“AIDS Walk L.A. and New York are only maybe two years older than us,” said Lintecum.  And others like the Chicago walk that is back in existence took about seven or eight years off. And so many other cities – due to lack of volunteer and donor support, they just faded away. So we’re lucky that Kansas City has continued to support financially, as well as the intense excitement that our volunteers bring to our efforts.”

AIDS Walk Kansas City is traditionally held the last weekend of April, and that has meant rain some years. Last year’s walk had to be canceled that day because storms and lightning made it too dangerous for the walkers. That had never happened before in the walk’s history.

“We ordered ponchos this year,” said Strodtman with a laugh.

AIDS Walk Kansas City will be held at Theis Park on April 28, 2018. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the walk begins at 10 a.m. To register, raise money online, and find more information, visit: www.aidswalkkansascity.org.




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