October 4, 2014 marks the 23rd Annual Nashville AIDS Walk and 5K Run, Tennessee’s oldest continuously running HIV/AIDS fundraiser. The Walk began as a community event organized by longtime Nashville AIDS activist Victoria Harris, and it was designed to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS in Middle Tennessee, as well as money for prevention education and supportive services provided by CARES. Harris’s efforts funded AIDS services in Middle Tennessee.

In 1992, Nashville CARES assumed responsibility for spearheading the event. Country music artist Kathy Mattea served as the honorary co-chair of the first Nashville CARES AIDS Walk, which was then called “From All Walks of Life.”

“The Walk is really a form of community mobilization. Every walker, as they ask their social networks for donations, becomes an awareness ambassador. It creates a conversation around HIV as a community health issue,” said Joseph Interrante, Nashville CARES CEO.

 Much has changed since that first walk, and the nature of the HIV/AIDS public health crisis has shifted, Robert Adams, Nashville CARES Chief Financial Officer, notes. Still, “People are living longer and healthier lives and Nashville CARES continues to help in that process. The walk still significantly funds the programs and services that help thousands of Middle Tennesseans living with HIV.”

This year, the Nashville AIDS Walk is proudly presented by NPS Pharmacy. More than 2,000 participants are expected at the event and hope to raise $240,000. “The walk really allows people, regardless of their means, to give to the cause. No amount is too small and every little bit helps,” said Interrante.

This year’s Honorary Walk Chairs are Chris Carmack, who plays Will Lexington on ABC’s Nashville, and Lisa Spencer & Paul Heggen from Channel 4’s 4WARN Weather team. Interrante notes, “From a celebrity chair standpoint, art has come to imitate life. Nashville’s own Kathy Mattea served as honorary chair of the first AIDS Walk and 23 years later we have an actor who plays a Nashville country music artist.”

Last year, the walk added a timed 5K run that starts at the same time as the walk, and that will continue this year. The event also features a community and business fair, food trucks, entertainment and an award’s ceremony. The Nashville AIDS Walk and 5K Run welcomes children and pets and starts at 10:00 AM.

For additional information, or to register for the Nashville AIDS Walk and 5K Run, please visit www.NashvilleAIDSWalk.com or call 615-259-4866. Nashville CARES relies on support from the local community to provide services for those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. For sponsorship information, please contact Betsy Seaton at bseaton@NashvilleCARES.org or by calling 615-259-4866 ext. 263.

 

 

 

 

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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