October 19, 2020 at 10:21 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Whitman-Walker plans ‘virtual’ Walk to End HIV
end HIV, gay news, Washington Blade
This year’s Walk to End HIV will be held virtually. (Washington Blade file photo by Zach Brien)

Whitman-Walker Health, D.C.’s LGBTQ supportive healthcare center, announced on Wednesday that its 34th annual fundraising Walk & 5K Run to End HIV will be held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an Oct. 15 statement, Whitman-Walker said it is calling on its community supporters to gather as individuals or teams on Oct. 24 “by walking or running a 5K route of their choosing – however, supporters can walk, run and donate through December 31st.”

The statement says the event’s fundraising goal this year is $400,000, which will be used to support Whitman-Walker’s “work and mission of keeping 20,000+ unique patients healthy and thriving.”

It says the annual Walk & 5K to End HIV, which in the past was known as the annual AIDS Walk, is Whitman-Walker’s largest fundraiser of the year.

“The Walk is imperative to helping Whitman-Walker deliver affordable and dignifying HIV care, prevention and wellness services,” said Whitman-Walker Health CEO Naseema Shafi. “Funds support our free testing services and help ensure that we continue to provide the affirming health care the community deserves,” she said in a statement.

“We are grateful for the support we’ve received from the entire community for decades and hope they will continue to support us again this year,” Shafi said.

Similar to past years when the walk and run were held as an in-person event in downtown D.C., with over 1,000 people participating, participants are being asked to register for the event online and invite friends and supporters to pledge a contribution in support of their role as a walker or runner.

“We invite folks to fundraise on a team,” said Whitman-Walker spokesperson Jewel Addy. “We are providing routes that folks can use with or without teams on Oct. 24 or later,” she told the Blade.

“If running/walking with a team, we definitely encourage folks to practice COVID-19 precautions by maintaining safe distances of at least 6 feet from others, taking hand sanitizer on their route with them, and wearing a mask that covers both their nose and mouth,” Addy said.

“Like many individuals and businesses, we are experiencing both human and financial hardship due to COVID,” said Don Blanchon, CEO of Whitman-Walker Health System. “This year’s Walk could not come at a better time as we need donations – both large and small – to relieve COVID-related financial pressures,” Blanchon said.

Information about registration and proposed routes for the Walk & 5K to End HIV can be accessed here.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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