Toronto
2 min

Walking worried

US events might cut into AIDS Walk funds

TYING IT ON. AIDS Walk's co-chair Richard Bowring is going to make tracks. Credit: Jan Becker

Despite the recent terrorist attacks in the US, the show must go on for Toronto’s AIDS Walk.



“We wondered if this is something we should continue to do because we didn’t want to seem insensitive, but there was concern,” says Richard Bowring, co-chair of this year’s Walk. “AIDS is an ongoing thing. If we don’t do anything at this point, there are programs that the AIDS Committee Of Toronto – and their partner agencies that we give money to – wouldn’t be able to do.”



“We’ve had communication within the AIDS Walk committee at least twice a day of some sort and even had communication with the police and City Hall.”



Though many other events around the world have changed their schedules because of the attacks on New York and Washington, Bowring says postponing the event isn’t an option.



“There are events happening weekends from Labour Day to the middle of October. Every time slot is booked, our only options would be to shut it down or do a smaller version.”



The walk itself is shorter this year. The route, which begins and ends at Nathan Phillips Square, will have walkers travelling a distance of 5km instead of the usual 8km route. The change in route size will not affect how much money the walk brings in – pledges are not based on the distance a person walks.



Last year, the Walk raised just over $500,000 with 15,000 walkers; this year organizers have set $545,000 for a target. But because of the attention going to the rescue operations in New York, there are worries about how much people will be willing to donate.



“Given the events of this week, we aren’t quite sure what the reaction of the world and of the Toronto community will be and how they will be in coming out to walk given the death toll that happened in New York,” he says.



Bowring says that no participants have cancelled because of what happened.



“But I’m sure there will be people who would have walked who won’t be walking now because their lives have been impacted more immediately by what happened.”



Bowring, who is development associate for the Faculty Of Information Studies at New College and Innis College, says he got involved with the Walk nine years ago because his then-boyfriend was chair of the marketing committee.



“I have since broken up with him but my attachment to the Walk has continued because I saw how valuable a cause it was.”



For thirsty walkers there are water stops along the route. There will also be a barbecue, a Molson Beer Garden, entertainment and a community fair. Two panels from the Memorial AIDS quilt will also be displayed, and there will be an AIDS Walk chalk quilt.



“The campaign this year is an extensive of last year’s campaign which was, AIDS Is Not Over. Obviously, AIDS is still not over. This year it’s AIDS Costs, not only financially but also in regards to human life and quality of life.”



TORONTO AIDS WALK.

2pm. Sun, Sep 23.

Start at Nathan Phillips Square.

416-340-WALK.