The Camp 10 - Josh Strodtman
We’re getting closer to spring, and I couldn’t be more excited! AIDS Walk Kansas City 2015 will soon be upon us! For this month’s column, I interviewed Josh Strodtman of AIDS Walk, which has its big event this year on Saturday, April 25. Not only is he dedicated to this great organization, but he also is involved with Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which puts LGBT business people in touch with each other. This man is busy, so I was thrilled when he took some time out of his hectic schedule to answer some questions!
1. I understand that you’re with AIDS Walk Kansas City. How long have you been involved?
I have been involved with AIDS Walk for 12 years now. I started out as a volunteer working in the registration tent. In 2005, I graduated from UMKC and began working with Michael Lintecum. Since then, I have been serving as the associate producer of AIDS Walk Kansas City.
2. What brought you to work with this organization?
I volunteered on the Missouri “No on 2” campaign [for the constitutional amendment that prohibited recognition of same-sex marriages> in 2004, and that is where I met Michael Lintecum, Alison Ball and a number of fun people. I used to go in to the campaign and help stuff envelopes, answer calls and deliver flyers door to door. I then became friends with a few steering committee members of AIDS Walk or regular volunteers of the Walk. My first year, I had a friend ask me to help out. That same friend used to be Truman the Tiger at Mizzou (whom I met in college), and he got permission from the university to be at the Walk that year. I served as his handler my first year and then moved over to registration the following year. It was really a lot of fun!
3. The AIDS Walk Open Mini Golf Pub Crawl is March 7. What can people expect from this year’s event?
More bars, more fun and more craziness! This year, we have 12 bars participating, which is the most we’ve ever had. If you haven’t participated before, you need to grab three friends and sign up today. The AIDS Walk Open is quite honestly one of the most entertaining events in town!
4. The money raised by AIDS Walk Kansas City is kept in the K.C. community. How are the funds used?
Eighty percent of the funds raised by AIDS Walk go to support our four major AIDS service organizations: Kansas City CARE Clinic, Hope Care Center, Good Samaritan Project and SAVE Inc. These organizations provide free HIV testing, case management, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention efforts, medical care, housing, and skilled nursing care to the over 4,700 women, men and children living with HIV/AIDS in Kansas City. In addition, 20 percent of the funds raised go to support the Community Fund, which distributes money via a grant process to other organizations that have programs dedicated to HIV/AIDS.
5. The Mosaic Project is in its 17th year. (This AIDS awareness art project, featuring glazed ceramic tiles made by youth and other volunteers, is set for April 3.) What inspired its creation?
Eighteen years ago, a young Shawnee Mission East art student wanted to support AIDS Walk. After much brainstorming between this student, Michael Lintecum, and now Mosaic chair Greg Hugeback, the idea of Mosaic was born.
6. What effect does the Mosaic Project have on the youth who are involved?
In many ways, Mosaic may be the only HIV/AIDS educational opportunity that many students have in middle and high school. Mosaic reaches middle and high school students and volunteers through art by giving each student a chance to share their individual interpretation of what a world without AIDS would look like. Mosaic is a great tool to get students thinking about HIV-- how it’s transmitted, prevention methods, and what they can do to help spread this message to their peers. I think Mosaic can help mold our future HIV/AIDS activists.
7. The Mosaic Project’s theme this year is “A World Without AIDS.” What must the community do to work toward the elimination of AIDS in Kansas City?
It’s all about education, prevention, and eliminating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. The good news is that Kansas City’s AIDS service organizations collaborate and work well together toward a common goal. These efforts have helped K.C. lead the way in many national statistics when it comes to getting those newly infected in care, keeping them in care and suppressing viral loads. If we continue our educational, prevention and stigma-elimination efforts, we will one day know a Kansas City without HIV/AIDS.
8. Why should people who aren’t usually involved become active with AIDS Walk Kansas City?
There are so many reasons that people should be involved. By getting involved, you are doing the right thing. By getting involved, you help the 4,700 women, men and children living with HIV/AIDS in our city. By getting involved, you help spread the message of prevention and empowerment. But by getting involved, you also become part of a great and loving family—the AIDS Walk Family.
9. You’re also involved in the Mid-America Gay &