Monday, May 18, 2009

Walking the (AIDS)Walk

by ENC volunteer, Félix Araújo-Pérez

Lending a helping hand has always been an idea I've had in my mind but seldom pursued. So when I heard that Equality NC needed volunteers to help promote the School Violence Prevention Act during this year’s AIDSwalk+ride, I gathered up my courage and offered myself.

You may ask why I needed courage for this. Well, most new experiences terrify me. As I was walking toward Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh, I felt as if my heart was about to break my chest open. Fortunately, Seth Maid was waiting at the Equality NC table with another rookie volunteer, and after his crash course training I felt confident that I could make it.

All in all this was the perfect opportunity to conquer my fears while helping to promote a safer school environment for students in North Carolina and promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. We were surrounded a by cheerful crowd that danced to the rhythm of live music while bike riders and walkers arrived to the area. A diverse group of sponsors offered freebies that included massages, food, and even the opportunity to adopt a pet.

May 2, 2009 marked the 14th anniversary of this fundraising event organized by the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolinas. For North Carolinians this was yet another successful celebration of life, an education in HIV/AIDS awareness, and a time to take an active stance on this important social issue.

I could summarize this year’s AIDSwalk+ride with a few words: walking, riding, eating, dancing, volunteering, and no bullying.

Lately, turning the TV on and reading my favorite news source has not helped my unemployed/grad-student reality. As the clock ticks my present situation remains static, even after countless efforts to change it. I needed an outlet through which I could channel all that unhealthy negative energy. Volunteering proved to be therapeutic to me.

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