The 23rd AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run went off Sunday with gorgeous skies and just enough nip in the air to move for a cure in comfort. Even better, the event hit a $1 million milestone that hasn’t been seen for several years.
The event in Piedmont Park benefits organizer AID Atlanta and seven other AIDS non-profits. It came close to its fundraising goal last year, and the two previous walks broke $900,000. Even as donations continue to roll in this year, the magic million marker is cinched. Second only to AID Atlanta, the team walking for gay-founded and gay-run Positive Impact bested its own record by raising more than $95,000.
What gets gay men of every ilk out of bed on a Sunday morning more than anything else? AIDS Walk. The weather, special guests and Names Project AIDS Quilt panels helped draw every one of the walk’s 10,0000 participants to the park. A pageant queen and a reality queen, Miss USA 2012 Nana Meriwether and gay Atlanta “Idol” alum RJ Helton, were the headliners. WSB-TV’s Jovita Moore, Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and AID Atlanta’s lesbian interim director Cathy Woolard were among other notables in attendance.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the results of this year’s AIDS Walk Atlanta & 5K Run,” Woolard says in a prepared statement. “Thanks to the great weather, our sponsors and speakers, team captains, donors and volunteers, it was truly a perfect day. We can’t fight this disease in just one day, and the funds raised will help AID Atlanta and the beneficiaries do critical work to support those who need our help all year round.”
The first-time winner of the run was 18-year-old Marc Leber, who did the 5K in 18 minutes, 11 seconds to best 652 others.
Besides AID Atlanta and Positive Impact, other beneficiaries of Sunday's event include AID Gwinnett / Ric Crawford Clinic, AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta, Aniz, Jerusalem House, Living Room and Open Hand.
Photos by Sher Pruitt