UW News

August 20, 2009

Walking the walk: UW staffers to support Lifelong AIDS Alliance at annual Seattle AIDS Walk

Want to take a walk with your UW colleagues and raise some money for a worthy cause in the process? Then join the Seattle AIDS Walk on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Volunteer Park. Aaron Olson, a program coordinator for TRIO Student Support Services in the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, is serving as captain of what he hopes will be a large UW team.

“Last year there were nine separate UW-related teams participating,” he said, “and while I think it’s great that so many University people chose to be part of this, I’d like to see us all join forces and have a stronger UW presence at the event.”

The Seattle AIDS Walk, which benefits the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, begins at 9:30 a.m. at Volunteer Park and makes a loop through Capitol Hill, returning to the park after a 5 k (about 3.1 miles) walk. A party with food and music follows.

To join the team, go to the Seattle AIDS Walk page and click on “register now.” On the next page, click “join a team” and type in “University of Washington.” This brings you to the UW team page, where you click “join now.”

Once you’ve joined the team, you can begin raising money. You can create your own page using tools provided by the sponsor and ask your friends to donate to support your participation. Or you can simply direct donors to the UW page already created. If you can’t come on Sept. 26, it’s even possible to be a “virtual walker” and raise money without actually doing the walk.

The Lifelong AIDS Alliance is a group that offers care services, advocacy and prevention education for people in King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties. Care programs include information and referrals, nutritional support including meal and grocery delivery, housing, and medication adherence. Its insurance program is statewide, and helps people with HIV and AIDS pay their insurance premiums. The prevention education team works with some of the highest-risk populations in the area, including men who have sex with men, transgendered women and young people. It is one of the organizations that UW employees can give to through the Combined Fund Drive.

For Olson, the walk is very personal. He is both a gay man and a Latino, and he says that AIDS has struck people of color disproportionately.

“It’s been almost 30 years since the first outbreaks, and still people are getting infected,” he said. “Three of my friends have been diagnosed HIV positive in the last year. We’ve made great strides in medical research on AIDS, but we haven’t done so well at prevention.”

Olson has barely begun his recruitment efforts, but already six people have signed up to be on the team. He welcomes anyone who is interested.

For further information go to the AIDS Walk Web site or contact Olson at alolson@u.washington.edu.