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by Bethany Gustavsen, JOUR 3300

Every year about 40,000 people in the United States, more than 3,000 of them in Hawai‘i, are infected with HIV. More than half of those newly infected are under the age of 25. The Walk for Life hopes to build public awareness about the epidemic, educate people on ways to prevent spreading the virus, and raise $125,000 to assist the Life Foundation in its client and prevention services.

“ With medical advancements people are able to live much longer with AIDS, but there is still no cure,” said Catherina Pudwill of the Life Foundation. “It is important for everyone to know that the disease is preventable.”

The funds raised by the event will help the Life Foundation continue to care for more than 600 clients and 60 percent of Hawai‘i’s men, women, and children who are living with HIV. Those funds will also support the organization’s comprehensive prevention programs, including community outreach, counseling, education, and free anonymous HIV testing.

“ Donations made will help us continue our services to the Hawai‘i community. In the absence of an HIV vaccine or a cure, prevention remains the most effective method to contain the epidemic,” Pudwill declared.

The 5K walk around Kapiolani Park provides the opportunity to raise the funding, awareness, and support that will be needed to rid our islands of this disease. Anyone can join in the fight against AIDS and HIV by starting a team, registering as an individual walker, or by visiting aidswalkhawaii.kintera.org to make a donation.

The Life Foundation’s Web site, with the online support of Kinetra, uses technology to make fundraising secure and easy. It provides registered walkers with multiple ways to search out donations; with options to “spread the word” using e-mail templates to solicit their friends and families both locally and internationally; with personal Web sites, where donations can be accepted via the Web; and with a list of 15 fundraising ideas.

To motivate the fundraisers, the Life Foundation is offering awards to individuals and to teams who raise the most money. The top-three individual winners will be awarded vacation packages to Las Vegas for first place, Maxatlan, Mexico for second place, and Palm Springs, Calif. for third place. Both the top team and top high school team will be awarded free admission to Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park.

Last year, the Starbucks’ AIDS Walk for Life raised more than $100,000 to support those in our community who are living with HIV and to help prevent new HIV cases in our islands. Will you help the Life Foundation reach its goal of $125,000 this year?

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