AIDS Walk Michigan: Funds down, spirits up

By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

DETROIT - Despite beautiful weather and an increase of one thousand walkers over 2004, AIDS Walk Michigan has raised about 14.5 percent less than the event collected last year, according to Barb Murray, co-chair of the Detroit walk and president of the board of AIDS Walk Michigan.

However, Murray said that the overall news is good.

"Given the economy, given the amount of money that people have given to hurricane relief, I'm pleased; and I'm very proud of every one of these cities," she said. "It's pretty cool on any given weekend when you get up to do an AIDS walk and realize that the same thing is happening in seven other cities. That's a very powerful statement."

Murray said that not only the weather, but also the energy of the walkers was a big plus.

"It was a gorgeous day, everywhere - that's what IÕve gotten from every walk site. People were very energized, very excited about doing this," she said.

Organizers of the walk, which took place in Ann Arbor, Bay City, Detroit, the Flint and Bay City/Saginaw/Midland areas, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Traverse City during the weekend of Oct. 1 and 2, will donate five percent of proceeds to the Katrina HIV/AIDS Emergency Fund at the National AIDS Fund.

Murray said that 4,186 walkers participated in the 2005 event, an increase of one thousand walkers over 2004. She estimated that $218,000 had been raised so far.

Murray also gave kudos to the organizers of the Bay City/Saginaw/Midland walk.

"It was their first walk," Murray said, "and they had over 270 walkers and raised over $25,000. Those are great results for a first walk."

Murray stressed that it's still not too late to make a tax-deductible donation to AIDS Walk Michigan, which raises funds for the local agencies that serve nearly 60 percent of the 16,000 Michigan residents living with HIV and AIDS.

Donors can contribute "in the middle of the night, at the end of the year, tomorrow afternoon, or anytime in between," said Murray.

The walks may be over, but the agencies that serve people living with HIV/AIDS still need your help. Your donation could help AIDS Walk Michigan catch up to and surpass last year's total and help hurricane victims who are living with AIDS as well. To make an online donation visit the AIDS Walk Michigan site at http://www.aidswalkmichigan.org. Donors can also call the Walk's toll-free number at 888-791-9255.

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