Thousands Walk For AIDS
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Thousands of people walked along the Schuylkill River on Sunday afternoon to help people who have AIDS.
The fifth annual AIDS Walk was expected to raise $200,000, according to Terese Vekteris of From All Walks of Life, which organized the event.
The money pledged to participants would be distributed among 20 groups that provide AIDS care and education in the Philadelphia area.
Before the start of the eight-mile walk, Gary Bailey told the crowd that he liked to think he was living with AIDS, rather than dying from AIDS.
″If I’m dying from anything, I’m dying from homophobia. ... I’m dying from indifference, ineptitude and red tape,″ said Bailey, 39.
Cast members of Les Miserables sang ″Empty Chairs, Empty Tables,″ a song from the musical that had an added poignancy to people whose friends have died of AIDS.
Many of the roughly 4,000 walk participants made their statements on buttons and T-shirts, and the overall message was the same: more needs to be done to help people with AIDS and to educate people about the disease.
Lt. Gov. Mark Singel said government has been slow to respond to the AIDS epidemic.
″It’s time for politicians to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with you, to lock arms with you and address the cause as well,″ he said.
Singel, who joined the walkers, reiterated recommendations he made last month in a published AIDS plan. He spoke of a need to improve AIDS education and expand a state benefits program to make life-prolonging drugs more available for low- and moderate-income people with AIDS.
Bailey said the crowds that gathered at the Philadelphia Art Museum before the start of the walk were a sign that more people are understanding the seriousness of AIDS.
″When I look out at the sea of people, I am filled with hope,″ he said.