The Paths That Led Them to Fighting AIDS
There are thousands of stories of why people walk, volunteer or do other events to raise money in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Here are just a few.
The Frye Family
Three of the most hard-working volunteers at the AIDS Walk events are Rick and Anne Frye and their daughter, Koree Frye. The Fryes have been married for 30 years and they have seven kids. For them, AIDS Walk is a family affair — they’ve involved all their children as volunteers or walkers at some point in their lives.
Anne and Koree have served as co-chairs of AIDS Walk for the last two years. Anne said they had been walking for 15 years and had been on the steering committee for four years.
Anne and Koree’s responsibilities include handing out flyers to area businesses in an effort to get donations to the Union Hill Parties Silent Auction. She said they’ve done this with the help of Claire Fitzsimmons and Katie Heschmeyer. The Silent Auction is a great success, but Anne said it’s amazing how many times they contact a business and get shunned when the person finds out the cause is HIV/AIDS.
“We’re just in awe, and they almost don’t want to take the paper. Koree is so good — she’ll lay the paper down and she says, ‘I’m going to leave the information with you, and if you want to donate we’d greatly appreciate it,” she said with a laugh.
Rick, who does house painting and construction for a living, said he had had problems with one man that he knew through work, who said to him, “Aren’t you afraid of getting AIDS by being associated with these gay guys?”
“I said, ‘You dumbass, you can’t get it by hugging them or being around them or drinking a beer with them.’ ”
Anne Frye said, “Being a straight woman having been raised in Johnson County, [I see that> there’s still a lot of people who think it’s a gay disease, and it isn’t. I was thinking last night — the reason we do it, the majority of the reason, was because Harvey [a friend who died of AIDS"> touched our souls so much. Harvey touched a core in the Fryes’ hearts that he’ll never know. It’s so sad that he’s not here.
“But the main reason why I do it is for our seven kids and our three grandbabies. If I could do anything for them to wipe it all out, that’s why I do it. Just not to see people suffer, but to educate my kids, my grandchildren, whatever. That’s why I do it.”
Rick, Anne and Koree know the routine of the AIDS Walk events well by now. Rick likes work behind the scenes, and Anne and Koree do a combination of whatever else is needed to make sure the events and the walk go smoothly. Whether it’s the BeerFest, AIDS Walk Open, Union Hill Parties, the AIDS Walk or any of the other events, the Fryes are doing tasks that range from schlepping ice and boxes, to transporting people and materials on golf carts, or monitoring the AIDS Walk Open miniature golf stands.
Rick said, “The enthusiasm at the putt-putt [AIDS Walk Open"> this year, for an example, was so good, and the organization of the core people with Michael Lintecum and Josh Strodtman and everyone that they have surrounded themselves with went off so clean that people on the steering committee and the directors all stayed and danced and had a good time at Missie B’s, where usually everybody was so worn out that they would all split and go veg out at the house. …Everybody and the people that created this organization are thrilled to death at all the people and all the enthusiasm.”
The family’s dedication to AIDS Walk means they’ve attended many fundraisers at the gay bars. It’s not uncommon for Rick to put on camp drag and do his best to lip sync as only a non-drag queen can do. It’s pure fun, and he helps raise lots of money. Rick spoke of the recent AIDS Walk retro party at Missie B’s where he did his signature bad wig/bad dress/bad makeup drag on a cold winter night with low attendance. He was amazed that they still raised $750 from the small crowd. Anne said that she’s amazed how often people come up to her and Koree in bars and think they’re a lesbian couple.
The Frye family will be setting up for AIDS Walk the day before the walk with volunteers from State Street and other AIDS Walk volunteers, and then return to Theis Park early the next morning and stay until late in the afternoon.
“It’s a long day, but a good day,” Anne said.
“We don’t do it because we want a pat on our back. We do it because of what we feel in our hearts,” Rick said.
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