Around 30,000 people flocked to New York City's Central Park for the 29th annual AIDS Walk New York last week, where celebrities, corporate teams, and tens of thousands of individual walkers collectively raised over $5 million for GMHC and more than 40 other AIDS service organizations in the region.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to work with GMHC and the other groups to stop new HIV infections in the city, which has a AIDS-free by 2020 plan in place.
"I want to thank everyone who is here today," he said. "You are doing something powerful for this city. Because of you, the resources will be there. Until we fight this to the point of winning, we will maintain that sense of urgency and New York City will stand with you."
De Blasio was joined by several celebrities including six-time Emmy winner Tyne Daly and Bobby Steggert (from Broadway's Mothers and Sons), as well as the show's author, four-time Tony Award winning playwright Terrance McNally; Randy Fenoli (Host of TLC's Say 'Yes' to the Dress); Dot-Marie Jones (Glee); Eric Olsen and Daniela Ruah of NCIS: Los Angeles; Lana Parilla (Once Upon a Time); Nick Wechsler (Revenge); and CBS 2 News anchors Dana Tyler and Chris Wragge. About a dozen high profile politicians were in attendance including United States Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Charles Rangel (both early advocates for prevention efforts and protection of people with HIV).
"We at GMHC are deeply grateful to everyone who gathered here today to raise funds and walk together — people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life — in solidarity to bring an end to AIDS," said Craig R. Miller, AIDS Walk founder and senior organizer. "The $5,105,276 in total fundraising this diverse and inspiring community has helped raise, to help each other, is clear proof that the fight against AIDS is not just an older generation's fight, and it is not just a younger generation's fight — it is our fight. Thanks to the efforts of this compassionate and inspiring community, we are winning."
The interim CEO, Janet Weinberg, admited that while attention to HIV and AIDS is "diminishing," organizations like GMHC have more tools now to "prevent HIV, suppress HIV and divert HIV. We can be so much more hopeful than when we started, if we continue to have the support of walkers, sponsors and our elected officials."
The Walk had dozens of corporate supporters as well, including one from Duane Reade, a New York pharmacy chain with 250 stores, which offered a pin-pad initiative, where customers could make donations to the AIDS Walk through the credit card systems when making a purchase. The program has raised more than $1 million since its inception in 2010.
In the following pages we offer video vignettes of the AIDS Walk organizers, Mayor de Blasio, and singers Bobby Steggert and Alton Fitzgerald performaning.
Janet Weinberg - Interim CEO and COO of GMHC
Kelsey Louie - Incoming CEO of GMHC
Mayor of New York City - Bill de Blasio
Alton Fitzgerald White sings "Make Them Hear You"
Bobby Steggert sings "You'll Never Walk Alone"