AIDS Run and Walk Chicago 2023 steps off at Soldier Field to help end HIV epidemic in IL

'People think that now it's over, it's been so long, but there's still people who are in need of services'

ByStephanie Wade WLS logo
Saturday, September 30, 2023
Thousands turn out for AIDS Run and Walk Chicago at Soldier Field
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Thousands participated in the AIDS Run and Walk Chicago at Soldier Field Saturday morning with a goal of ending the HIV epidemic in Illinois by 2030.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Running and walking in their bright-colored garb, over 2,500 people showing up and showing out in their most authentic selves Saturday morning for the 32nd annual AIDS Run and Walk at Soldier Field.

"We want as many people in the city and around the city of Chicago to understand how important this AIDS walk/run really is," said runner Liz Agbarah.

Organizers said they're using today to mobilize for equity and justice for people living with or vulnerable to HIV/AIDS in Illinois.

"We are seeing tremendous declines in new HIV cases by about 25% over the last five years in Chicago. Which is incredible. But the challenge is we haven't seen new cases decline among all groups equally," said John Peller, president of AIDS Foundation Chicago. "And so we really need to double down on racial health equity to make sure that black and LatinX people have the same opportunities to prevent HIV as their white counterparts."

People from across the Chicagoland area, of all backgrounds came together for one purpose.

"In our community, especially we are in East Garfield Park, there's not a lot of resources for people like that. And so many people die of AIDS," said runner D'yana McDougal-Lee.

"I try to be an ally as much as I can. And it's cool to come out and support a great cause, because as she said, there's people in our community, who suffering from AIDS and HIV," said Joshua Howse who also participated in the run.

Mayor Brandon Johnson was not necessarily dressed to exercise today but he did stop by to show support.

"This walk, this run is making a difference in people's lives," said Johnson. "But as you know, as much as this is exciting news, we have a lot of work to do."

"People think that now it's over, it's been so long but there's still people who are in need of services," said Charles Hall.

Funds raised Saturday will benefit the AIDS Foundation Chicago and 30 other community organizations, which provide essential services for those living with the illness.

Since its inception, more than 24,000 people have converged to get moving against HIV/AIDS, raising $6 million.

With each step, the foundation had a statewide goal to end the epidemic in Illinois by 2030.

"We could use everybody's support, not just people who are sick, but people who aren't sick you know," said Hall.