Charlotte, NC – In its 24th year, AIDS WALK Charlotte is one of the largest HIV awareness and fundraising events in the Carolinas. Due to shelter-in-place orders, this year’s event has gone virtual, so qnotes reached out to organizers to learn more about how one can be involved and how the event has changed. The walk supports the Charlotte-based HIV service organization, RAIN, and its programs for people living with HIV and AIDS in our community. Debbie Warren serves as the organization’s president and CEO and Nathan Smith is RAIN’s vice president of philanthropy.

            Asked how the organization is doing during the pandemic, Warren said, “We’ve had a lot of people who’ve lost jobs. It may not be the entire household, but a lot have lost 75 percent of the income for the household. And then, there’s a lot of anxiety all the way around for people living with HIV. We’ve gone virtual, and we have HIPPA-compliant platforms for mental health counseling and other supportive services. People are concerned about health insurance and getting their medications — access to their medications. So, a lot of our work is around that right now.

            The AIDS WALK Charlotte board had a discussion On March 17 about what it would take to go virtual since we had such a robust website. We knew that we were going to need to go virtual. Smith said, “o]bviously, as things have progressed and things have changed day to day with COVID-19, we kept thinking about it in February, but it was really in the middle of March when we realized that the stay-at-home and work-from-home orders were coming down the pipeline. We knew it was the best decision.” AIDS WALK Charlotte, Virtual is an online fundraising initiative that allows people to register and hold their own symbolic walk while still fundraising for RAIN. The goal of this year’s walk was reduced to $125,000 from an original $175,000. In 2019, the event raised $160,000. As of press time, the walk has raised over $49,000 with 423 people registered. To register or donate, visit AIDSWalkCLT.org. As the website says, “We won’t have the opportunity to meet up in person on May 2, but we’ve giving you an extra month to fundraise.” The organization still plans to give out awards to top fundraising teams and individuals, along with commemorative T-shirts to all participants. (Q Notes Online – Chris Rudisill at https://goqnotes.com/65579/a-virtual-walk/)

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