DENVER (CBS4) – Hundreds of people spent their Saturday morning walking and running for a cause.
“We do it to raise awareness of people living with HIV in our own community,” said Jeff Trujillo, event manager for AIDS Walk Colorado.
AIDS Walk Colorado is the oldest one-day HIV/AIDS fundraising and awareness event in the Rocky Mountain Region. The Colorado AIDS Project hosted the 29th annual walk Saturday morning at Cheesman Park. Money raised goes to helping the nearly 6,000 people living with HIV in Colorado.
“Last year we provided about 100,000 meals to people living with HIV, and 3,500 free HIV test kits,” Trujillo told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.
Over the years medicine has advanced and people with HIV are living much longer. Trujillo said that has created a false impression that AIDS is a thing of the past, ultimately leading to fewer donations.
“In 1996, I believe, we reached $1.7 million in donations,” he said. “This year our goal is $250,000.”
As of Saturday morning about $120,000 had been donated. If organizers cannot meet their donation goal this year and funding continues to decrease, it could mean the end of the annual event, according to Trujillo.
“That actually makes me sad,” said Jessica Watson, a participant of the walk. “I’m very disappointed to hear that. That makes me want to get out and do more.”
Event organizers say they’re grateful for the hundreds of people who continue to walk to raise awareness. The hope is that community gatherings like the AIDS Walk stay relevant and raise more money to keep helping the many Coloradans living with HIV.
“We’re still seeing infections yearly, so we need to make sure awareness is getting out,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo said organizers may know by Tuesday if there will be a 30th annual AIDS Walk Colorado.
It is not too late to donate. Anyone interested in helping the Colorado AIDS Project can learn more or donate by visiting coloradoaidsproject.org.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team in 2012 as the morning reporter, covering national stories like the Aurora Theater Shooting and devastating Colorado wildfires. She now anchors CBS4 Weekend Morning News and reports during the week. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @KellyCBS4.