Florida AIDS Walks Comes March 21, 2020
By John M. Hayden
Walk the walk. Talk the talk. Raise the funds. The 2020 Florida AIDS Walk & Music Festival goes down March 21, 2020 on Fort Lauderdale Beach, and the 5k walkathon is set to be a good cause and a great party.
Lil’ Kim is set to headline the after party, and with a catalog of hits that stretches back more than 25 years, she’s ready to rock several generations of fans.
But first comes the hard work. It’s a lot more than showing up on the first weekend of Spring for a walk along the beach. “We are finding it more difficult to keep awareness out there,” Imara Canady of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) told me. “Especially in the age of technology, people are oversaturated with so much information. How do we continue to be innovative in a way that connects and meets them where they are at?” He’s right. The AIDS/HIV crisis has long since been pushed off the front page of public consciousness. But that doesn’t mean it has gone away, especially in South Florida. Broward and Miami-Dade counties have some of the highest new infection rates in the country. “We’re focused on the mission to heighten the awareness and communication in the South Florida community.”
That means coming up with many messages for the many different communities affected. From African-American, trans, latino, to youth, AHF knows one size no longer fits all. So they find groups doing targeted outreach to get the maximum bang for your hard raised buck. “More creative cutting edge ways of reaching people. Not just during the AIDS Walk, but throughout the year.”
So now we walk again. Teams and individuals have spent months raising money and recruiting sponsors for the cause. The fight goes on on several fronts, and Imara says the money brought in this month will be spread around. “This raises money for ten deserving organizations, in the trenches, doing this work every day.”
The AIDS crisis is now in its fifth decade. And while the challenges have changed, so have the methods of combating it. AHF is using digital and text messaging to reach people, bringing it front and center as soon as people look at their phones. It comes down to grabbing people’s attention any way they can. And in the spirit of technology, the Florida AIDS Walk & Music Festival have the Virtual Walker. If you can’t be at the event in person, you can be there virtually. The program lets you be an active participant by raising funds for the cause, and be an active participant who can call on their personal networks.
More than a million people in America alone are living with HIV, and 100,000 of them are here in Florida. Making things worse, 15 percent have no idea they are infected. Clearly a lot of work is left to be done, and Florida is ground zero.
The other half of the AIDS Walk is the Music Festival, and Lil’ Kim won’t be the only star in the spotlight. Before the walk steps off the Deep Fried Funk Band will get walkers revved up, and before Lil’ Kim comes on, Casper Magico will take the stage. Check him out online if you don’t know him, he’s worth a listen.