The premier fundraiser for Nashville CARES, Tennessee's largest HIV/AIDS services organization, gets underway next month with a few new twists to the annual event.

The AIDS Walk and 5k Run will be held Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. More than 1500 people are expected to attend.

Right in the name is one big change to the event: this year's edition will include a 5k run for the first time, an added perk for attendees who want to combine fitness with philanthrophy. The entry fee is $25, and all participants who finish the run will receive a free t-shirt.

Attendees will support the cause from a new location, as Riverfront Park replaces Bicentennial Mall as the official venue for the walk. This shift is designed to draw more attention to the festivities.

"We were trying to look for a location where there would be more public exposure," says Mitch Turner, Development and Communications Officer of Nashville CARES. "We knew we wanted a place where we could stop traffic and we wanted to make this walk a big deal. This way people will see it and have to stop for it. All the 2nd avenue tourists and the people on Broad will be around. Our goal is to get them to gravitate towards the walk."

Nashville Pharmacy Services returns as presenting sponsor. In its 20th year, the event will also feature an afternoon concert headlined by celebrity co-chair and American Idol alum Kimberly Locke. Festivities include a Community & Business Fair, entertainment and children's activities.

"Our goal is to keep the audience around for when we announce who the top teams are," Turner says. "(Moving the) concert was an idea to keep everyone engaged. The Community & Business Fair will still be open and we will have food trucks available."

Each year, CARES educates 50,000 adults and youth to prevent new HIV infections, provides 12,000 HIV tests, and offers comprehensive support to 2,400 men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS. 

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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