Nearly 2,400 advocates, community partners, runners, walkers, volunteers, staff members and more gathered at Soldier Field on Oct. 2 for the 31st annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago.
The event raised approximately $500,000 (although online fundraising efforts will continue through Nov. 12) to directly support AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) and 30 community organizations providing essential programs and services for those living with or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS or other chronic illnesses.
The event also marked the 2nd anniversary of the HIV Resource HUBChicago's first-ever one-stop shop for comprehensive healthcare, regardless of HIV status. Services include HIV prevention, treatment and healthcare navigation; housing support; COVID-19 and MPV vaccine information; and PrEP support. More information, including scheduling in-person or virtual services, can be found at hivhub.org/ .
The top five individuals, collectively raising approximately $38,517, include Victor Ravago ($9,236); Victor Pazdernik ($8.913); Scott Miller ($7,900); John Peller ($6,458); and Marcelle McVay ($6,010). The top fundraising teams, collectively raising approximately $111,184, include Chicago House ($31,424); Season of Concern ($26,376); Center Striders ($26,376); AFC Staff ($13,703); and Legal Beagles for Legal Council for Health Justice ($13,154). A full list of supporters can be found at aidsrunwalk.org .
Proceeds from the event directly benefitted AFC and 30 and community organizations including Agape Missions, NFP; Ascension Health Housing and Health Alliance; CALOR; Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago; Center on Halsted; Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus; Chicago Dancers United; Chicago House & Social Service Agency; CCHIP - Cook County HIV Integrated Programs; Erie Family Health Centers; Esperanza Health Centers; Howard Brown Health Center; Legal Council for Health Justice; Life is Work; Lurie Children's SID; Michael Reese Care Program at Mercy; Mother & Child Alliance; Making A Daily Effort (MADE) / Nefuse; Open Door Health Center of Illinois; Pride Action Tank; Project VIDA; Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago; Season of Concern; Sinai Healthy System; TaskForce Prevention and Community Services; Transforming Re-Entry Services (MWIPM); University of Chicago/Chicago Center for HIV Elimination; WE Organization; Westside Pastors' Coalition for AIDS. All community organizations are actively working towards Getting to Zero Illinois, a state-wide initiative to end the HIV epidemic in Illinois by 2030.
Also, there were 5K and 10K runners as well as 5K walkers advanced through the sunny course along Chicago's Lake Michigan, and winners included the following:
5K: Mary Vrancic (female), Matthew Van Arkel (male) and William Pettway (gender-neutral)
10K: Katy Gwizdala (female), Pascal Bus (male) and Nick Villarreal (gender-neutral).
The opening ceremoniesemceed by WGN TV/Radio Entertainment Reporter Dean Richardsincluded remarks from speakers including AFC President and CEO John Peller; AFC Board Member Geof Brown; Artist/philanthropist/AFC Communications Director D'Ontace Keyes; Community advocate and leader Chris Pazdernik; Congresswoman Marie Newman; Chicago Department of Public Health leading expert Dr. Allison Arwady; Illinois State Representative LaShawn Ford; Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy; Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison; and Congressman Mike Quigley (5th District).
The event also featured workout warm-ups led by Tfal and Chi; music by DJ Harry Tyner Jr.; free flu shots and COVID-19 testing and vaccinations sponsored by Walgreens; breakfasts sponsored by McDonald's; refreshments by Kraft Heinz; a beer garden sponsored by MillerCoors; and a variety of booths providing HIV- and COVID-related resources.