Thousands of runners, walkers and joggers enjoyed a beautiful fall day in Piedmont Park to raise funds for the fight against HIV during the 26th Annual AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run on Sunday.

WSB’s Jovita Moore welcomed the crowd in pre-walk festivities that also included appearances by AID Atlanta Executive Director Nicole Roebuck and Evan Wolfson, a gay marriage advocate who founded Freedom to Marry. They were joined by the event’s three ambassadors – Tori Cooper, HIV health educator at Positive Impact Health Centers and the event’s first-ever transgender ambassador, actor Lamman Rucker and radio personality Madison James from B98.5.

Gary Hayes, the gay sidekick Gary With Da Tea from “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” also encouraged walk participants. Though he didn’t dish on “daddy girls” like he did on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” last year.

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, a mayoral candidate, also welcomed the crowd. Cathy Woolard, a lesbian and former City Council president also running for mayor, mingled with the crowd. Mitchell and Woolard were among several mayoral candidates who took part in the Atlanta Pride parade a week earlier.

On Tuesday, an online tally showed that the walk has raised more than $528,000. Fundraising will remain open as walk organizers push to reach their goal of $1 million in donations. 

Funds raised at the event support AID Atlanta and seven other organizations – Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, Aniz, Jerusalem House, Living Room, NAESM, Open Hand and Positive Impact Health Centers.

Donations to AIDS Walk Atlanta came from individual donations and teams that raised funds during events. One of the largest team totals came from Ready 4 Hope, which raised nearly $44,000 thanks to its Red Party Weekend and Bear-B-Q.

The walk also included select panels of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt as well as banners chronicling key moments in the battle against HIV in Atlanta.

Erick White placed first in the 5K Run with a time of 16:54. View the full race results.