The Message for AIDS Walk 2019: U=U

L-R: J.P. Crilly, Mayor Sly James, Derrick Bachman, Michael Lintecum at 2011 AIDS Walk.  Photo:  J. Long

Kansas City’s AIDS Walk fundraising effort, as many of us know, goes way beyond the annual walk itself – and even beyond all the planning and work that make that happen. AIDS Walk also organizes several smaller events throughout the year that contribute to the bottom line.

The money goes to organizations that provide shelter, medical care and emergency services for those in Kansas City who are affected by HIV/AIDS.

Planning for the 31st annual AIDS Walk got off to a great start on Jan. 24 with its annual kickoff party, held at the Grand Street Café. It’s just the beginning of several events leading up to this year’s walk on Saturday, April 27.

The theme will be U=U, or Undetectable Equals Untransmittable. This means that “people living with HIV who achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load – the amount of HIV in the blood – by taking and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed cannot sexually transmit the virus to others,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

AIDS Walk is partnering with the Prevention Access Campaign to support its global U=U campaign message. Bruce Richman, founder of the campaign, spoke at the 2018 World AIDS Day luncheon on Nov. 28. He will return to Kansas City to hold a public community forum on Feb. 21 for AIDS Walk team captains and all people interested in forming a team this year. It will be at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center.

Michael Lintecum speaking at AIDS Walk. Photo: J. Long

Michael Lintecum, the AIDS Walk event director, and Josh Strodtman, the associate director, have been familiar faces to many people for years at all the AIDS Walk events and on the stage or organizing people in the crowd at Theis Park for the walk itself.

Each year, AIDS Walk has co-chairs. John Patrick (J.P.) Crilly, who was a former co-chair and a consummate volunteer for over 15 years, passed away Dec. 3.

Derrick Bachman, manager of Bistro 303, where Crilly was a familiar face, said that Crilly was part of their team and that Bistro 303 would dedicate a part of their walk to him.

AIDS Walk flags. Photo: J. Long

“Of course, we’ll have a flag in his memory, a crimson flag,” Lintecum said. “The white flags are in recognition of those who passed away of HIV and the crimson are longtime supporters of AIDS Walk.”

This year’s co-chairs for the walk are Joseph Pinter, Belinda Breckenridge Manos, Andy Frye, Sam Grove, Angela Dorrell and Danielle Grunz. In addition, former co-chairs Gary and Janie Foltz will be honorary chairs.

Lintecum said, “We have a lot of exciting things going on. Like the KC Strips [a collaboration between actors, dancers, and designers] and small parties and other team things. Like Daisy [Buckët] has already started raising money with the cabaret she did at Missie B’s last week.”

Strodtman said, “The Heartland Men’s Chorus raised quite a bit of money last December, during their holiday show.”

Lintecum said a patrons’ party was planned for the middle of April. “It’s called the Bredius Society and for those donors that want to give starting at $125 a person, and it’s always in a beautiful home.”

AIDS Walk will be working with the Gay World Series as its nonprofit beneficiary when the Series is held in September in Kansas City.

KC Strips, Strodtman said, “is going to recreate the June show because there’s a charity fundraiser night at each host city. They’re going to re-create the show underneath the 12th Street Bridge, and it will be a huge party.”

Lintecum said that it’s been 20 years since the last Gay World Series was hosted in Kansas City. Even then, he said, it was a fantastic fundraiser for AIDS Walk. “Up to that point, we’d never had such a nice contribution to the AIDS Walk that they gave. I’m still looking for the check or a picture of the check presentations, but I think they gave us $20,000.”

AIDS Walk Open team. Photo: J. Long

Right now, they are gearing up for the annual AIDS Walk Open Pub Crawl, which will be 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, March 2, at 12 Kansas City bars. The event has often raised over $20,000 in one day. Teams of four pay $180 to enter and often dress in themed costumes. There are prizes for best costumes, best score and more.

One event that is no longer being held is the Mosaic tile project, for which students painted small tiles that depict their interpretation of the AIDS crisis.

“Greg Hugeback and all of the original committee were all in agreement that after 20 years, maybe it’s run its course in terms of volunteer support,” said Lintecum. “All the people that support AIDS Walk and that event probably have a lot of tiles. But you know you always have new kids and their parents coming along. So I think we’re going to try to reinvent and ask the community leaders to see and help us.”

He said the people who helped with Mosaic for 20 years had been quite dedicated. “And I mean dedication – from carrying 40-pound boxes of tiles around in the winter from cars to the schoolhouse, back and forth,” he said.

AIDS Walk event calendar

Team Captain Workshop:

5:30-7:30 p.m. Feb. 21, Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, 4801 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City, Mo.

AIDS Walk Open Miniature Golf Pub Crawl:

10 a.m.-6 p.m. March 2. Register before Feb. 1 and get $20 off your registration fee. Use code EARLYBIRD at checkout to get the discount. Registration is $180 for teams of four.

AIDS Walk: April 27, Theis Park, Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. and Oak St., Kansas City, Mo. Registration begins at 8 a.m., welcoming ceremonies at 9 a.m. and the Walk begins at 10 a.m.

Kansas City Strips: 8 p.m. June 14-15.

For more information and to register for any AIDS Walk event, visit www.aidswalkkansascity.org.

Photo courtesy of Joe Eats World

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