A clear and sunny Sunday afternoon was perfect weather for a little stroll around downtown with AIDS Walk Austin. This annual event raises money for local non-profit AIDS Services of Austin (ASA) whose mission is “to enhance the health and well-being of the community and people with HIV and AIDS.” The walk began and ended at Republic Square Park.
Long-time ASA supporters Austin City Council member Kathy Tovo and US Congressman Lloyd Doggett welcomed the walkers. The featured speaker was AIDS activist Cleve Jones (left in the photo above). Cleve was a student intern in Harvey Milk‘s San Francisco office in the 1970s and came up with the idea for the now-famous AIDS Memorial Quilt.
I took photos of the quilt blocks that were hanging around the park, but didn’t realize until researching this blog entry that organizations can request specific quilt blocks for their events. Here is Cleve Jones’ first quilt block that started it all:
Several other blocks with Austin connections were also on display. This block was requested due to the upper left panel memorializing a local businessman, Jack Sansing. After his death, his bequest was used to start the ASA dental clinic which serves those affected by HIV/AIDS:
After introductions, speeches and warm-up stretches, the drum line of the Regan High Soul Raiders Marching Band led us on the 5K walk through downtown. I’m now convinced that all walks and runs should be accompanied by drummers to keep everyone moving along, mostly at the same pace.
We headed north on Congress Avenue towards the Texas State Capitol. Musical groups such as the Austin Symphonic Band Saxophone Octet and the Capitol City Highlanders Pipe Band played along the route. Since I was up near the front—enjoying that drum line—I could see walkers stretched out several blocks behind me as we approached the capitol.
After circling through the capitol grounds, we headed back down to Republic Square Park for refreshments and live music. I’ve read that this year’s AIDS Walk Austin raised over $227,000, exceeding their fundraising goal!