“My sister was a very beautiful person, always lending a helping hand,” Minter said. “I’m sure she’s looking down on us, and she’s proud. I raised $1,000 in her name.”
The 10-kilometer walk – billed as the largest AIDS fundraising event in the world – raises money for HIV programs and services throughout the tri-state area. Recipients of the funds include AIDS prevention, care and advocacy group GMHC, which was originally known as the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and three dozen community organizations that help people with AIDS.
“Ramon, you won’t be forgotten,” said Hart, 32, of the upper West Side, who carried a sign saying “Team Ramon” and wore a necklace with a butterfly pendant because he loved butterflies.
“I was his only child; I’m keeping his memory alive,” said the Jersey City resident, who wore a T-shirt decorated with a picture of herself and her father and the words, “RIP Dad – I Love You.”
“It’s very important that people know what AIDS is and how to protect themselves,” said LaBoy.
Onlookers cheered and clanged cowbells as marchers crossed the finish line.
More than 107,000 city residents are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Robert Branda, 31, found out he was HIV-positive in 2004.
“It was a very rough period of my life – I made some bad decisions,” said the Chelsea resident, a former GMHC client who now works as an executive assistant at the nonprofit.
“I’m grateful to GMHC,” said Branda, who takes meds twice a day. “They saved my life. They do that for so many people.”
To mark AIDS Walk Day, local pols called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve the over-the-counter sale of rapid HIV test kits. Nearly 300,000 people nationwide who have HIV don’t know they’re infected.
“There is good reason to believe that some individuals who would otherwise test themselves for HIV avoid clinics and outreach centers because of the perceived stigma involved,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) said in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.