Thousands of people marched through Golden Gate Park this past weekend for San Francisco’s 30th annual AIDS walk, raising over $2 million for various HIV/AIDS programs and services throughout the Bay Area.
The crowd of 10,000 on Sunday walked primarily for three organizations; San Francisco General Hospital’s Ward 86 for long-term survivors for HIV, Project Open Hand, which provides meals for people living with HIV and Project Inform, which aims to bring affordable and effective care for people who are HIV-positive.
This year marked the launch of the Golden Compass program, an initiative that specifically targets elderly people who are infected with HIV.
“This program is the first of its kind,” board chair Serafina Palandech said. “As a result of all of the HIV medication, older people tend to become infected with new diseases. Golden Compass aims to better treat these people.”
The SF AIDS Walk also provided a platform for individuals and organizations to do their own fundraising. The top walker for this year was Richard McAllister, who raised nearly $24,000, and the top team was the National Aids Memorial Grove, with nearly $60,000 garnered in donations.
The remaining funds, including the $1.7 million raised online, will go to other Bay Area AIDS service organizations that applied for grants with the SF AIDS Walk Board.
The AIDS walk began in 1987 and has since raised more than $86 million total. Last year saw over 20,000 participants that collectively raised $2.3 million.
“I love seeing the wonderful crowd of community members gather before the walk starts,” Palandech said. “It’s such a moving testament to show how much people care, and how much love there is. It’s really inspiring to me.”