3rd annual AIDS pledge walk hits East End streets June 14

Put on your walking shoes and head for the hills–Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park to be exact, for the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force’s third annual AIDS pledge walk June 14.

AIDS Walk ’97 begins with check-in and early registration at 7:30am, followed by opening ceremonies at 8:15am and an aerobic warm-up at 8:45am. The walk begins promptly at 9am, rain or shine.

The five-mile course winds through Shadyside, Squirrel Hill and Oakland. A special one-mile course for people who cannot walk the entire five miles will run along the planned route. The one-mile course is handicapped-accessible.

Refreshments, rest stops and access to restrooms will be provided along the walk route and walkers will be treated to a free picnic lunch and concert at the end of the walk. This year, walk participants will also be able to remember loved ones who have died of AIDS by signing their names on a memorial canvas similar to the AIDS quilt.

Corporate sponsors of AIDS Walk ’97 include the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Lazarus, Marc Advertising, SmithKline Beecham Consumer Products, Shadyside Hospital, Glaxo Wellcome, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Starbucks Coffee, WPGH-TV and radio stations WYEP, B-94 and the X 105.9.

SmithKline Beecham will also sponsor a wellness tent where information on HIV and AIDS treatments and services will be distributed.

Former Steeler Rocky Bleier has been named honorary chair for the event, which last year raised $250,000 for the PATF. The Task Force distributed 10 percent of the proceeds from last year’s walk to other area AIDS service organizations in the form of grants. The remainder of funds raised were used to maintain and improve PATF’s client services, which include case management, a food pantry, legal services, the Buddy Project, the emergency fund and the transportation fund.

Proceeds also helped fund education and prevention services such as HIV testing and counseling, the speaker’s bureau, a research library, PATF’s Update newsletter and outreach programs to minorities, gay men and adolescents.

According to Frank Leavens, PATF director of development, this year’s fund- raising goal is to surpass $300,000.

Participants may register to walk individually or in five-member teams. Pledges will be collected in specific dollar amounts rather than by a per-mile figure.

Pledge forms are available at Borders Books, Barnes & Noble bookstores, Gap stores, National Record Marts, Starbucks, area gay bars and businesses and the PATF.

Individuals or teams who have collected more than $150 prior to the walk may preregister June 9 from 10am to 8pm at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside. Walk participants will receive gifts based on the amount of their pledges.

For a pledge form, more information or to volunteer, call 242-WALK or visit the PATF website at http:// trfn.clpgh.org/patf

This article originally appeared in Pittsburgh’s Out. This article is preserved as a part of the Q Archives project. Please consider donating to help preserve Pittsburgh’s Queer history.