By Lea Michelle Cash
According to the 2007 Terrence Higgins Trust Report by the close of 2005, there were an estimated 40.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS world wide. According to the 2006 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation report, at the end of 2004, an estimated 1, 039,000 to 1,185,000 persons in the United States were living with HIV/AIDS, with 24% to 27% undiagnosed and unaware of their HIV infection. The report further states that approximately 17,011 people died due to AIDS in 2005 alone and there have been over 55,00 AIDS related deaths since 1981. According to the 2006 California Department of Health Services, California ranks second in the country exceeded only by New York in the total number of AIDS cases since 1980.
The above reports were written one and two years ago. Now with the year 2007 about to close, the numbers are steadily climbing, and the staggering amount of people affected with HIV/AIDS is incomprehensible. This year more than any other year in the history of AIDS WALK/LOS ANGELES, people came from all over Southern California to show their support in raising money to fight against AIDS. The event was truly the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King's dream when Jews and Gentiles, white, black, yellow and even green joined hands together to fight a good fight towards the betterment of civil rights. In this case the modern day dream applied to putting out a terrible killer to all of humanity known as AIDS.
It was a beautiful thing to see especially regarding all the young people involved. That is why on Sunday, October 21, 2007 the Los Angles AID Walk raised 3.9 million dollars. Never before in the 23-year-history of this Walk has such a staggering amount of money been raised.
Jenifer Lewis with many of the celebrities at AIDS Walk
Participants, who take part in the challenge of raising funds for the AIDS Walk, ask friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors to sponsor them for the 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) they walk. The Walk begins and ends at San Vicente Boulevard, between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, in West Hollywood.
At this year's event there were many celebrities that participated in the fund raising endeavor. They were celebrity hosts: Michelle Bonilla (ER), Andrea Bowen (Desperate Housewives), Kelly Carlson (NIP/Tuck), Michelle Clunis & Thea Gill (Queer as Folk, Dante Cove), Wilson Cruz & Darryl Stephens (Noah's Arc), Faith Ford (Carpoolers), Scott Grimes (ER), TR Knight & Sara Ramirez (Grey's Anatomy), Holly Madison (Girls Next Door), Kimberly McCullough & Jason Thompson (General Hospital), Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Jai Rodriguez (Queer Eye), Jenifer Lewis (Sister Act, Who's Your Caddy) and Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) performed. Jenifer sang, "I Know Where I've Been" from the movie "Hairspray" Oscar winner Shirley Jones introduced Anika Noni Rose. When Anika finished singing her heart felt version of "You'll Never Walk Alone" she got emotional and let the tears just fall. She belted out the song with all her heart and the cheers and tears just kept on coming from the crowd of walkers and the many celebrity guests sitting on stage with her.
San Gabriel High School National Honor Society a part of the many high school students who volunteered for AIDS WALK
This year there were 3,500 volunteers that contributed more than 50,000 hours to AIDS WALK/ Los Angeles. The leading fundraisers for last year's event were Hilton Family of Hotels (93,772), and Mac Cosmetics (87,737). DreamWorks (81,420) Toyota Motor Sales (72,550) and Crossroads Teen AIDS Ambassadors (55, 471) just to name a few. There are 22 organizations that directly benefit from the AIDS WALK/Los Angeles which includes the Minority AIDS Project, which is the first community-based HIV/AIDS organization established and managed by people of color in the United States offering HIV/AIDS related health services and education to the African American and Latino communities.