Since 1985, AIDS Walk Los Angeles has raised $59 million for HIV programs and services in Los Angeles County and has grown to be the largest AIDS fundraising event in California. In 2007, over $3.9 million was raised for the AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), and Team 0003 of CSUN has played a major role in those contributions.
CSUN’s AIDS Walk team consists of more than 200 members who will be participating in the upcoming walk on Oct. 19. The team is made up of both ‘first-timers’ and past participants who have one common goal’mdash; to raise money to find the cure for AIDS.
‘This is my eighth year doing the AIDS walk,’ said Victoria Combre, a 21-year-old psychology major. ‘Initially, I participated while in high school because it counted for volunteer hours. After I graduated, I just continued to go. It’s such a wonderful experience.’
Memories of past events also caused various members of the team, like Combre, to return as well.
‘There’s this hill that you walk up during the walk and once you get to the top it’s amazing to see so many people walking ahead of you towards the same cause,’ said Combre.
Other students have less experience in the event, but just as much passion.
‘I was originally going to get my dorm to create a team, but then I saw a flyer for the CSUN team; I joined,’ said Mallory Montague, a 21-year-old deaf studies major, who is participating in the event for the second time.
The team goal, as posted on the AIDS Walk Los Angeles website, is $20,000 and they are well on their way with fundraisers at the on-campus Panda Express and Falafel Palace on Reseda Boulevard, around the corner from the school. Several of the participants who helped in this portion of the fundraising including 24-year-old communication studies and broadcast journalism major Mustafa Divan.
‘I’ve mostly been helping with handling out flyers for our fundraising events with Panda Express and Falafel Palace,’ said Divan.
Obstacles have stood in the way at times, preventing members of the team from raising as much money as they prefer.
‘I haven’t set a goal. I try to get my immediate friends to donate, but they believe it doesn’t concern them. This is a part of all of our lives. It isn’t only for certain people,’ said Combre.
In spite of the bumps in the road, certain actions have been made to achieve the goal of the team.
‘I send out letters to family and friends asking them to make donations and I personally give up little things myself to make financial contributions,’ said Montague.
Adding more members to the team is also important because it increases the team’s chances of raising more funds. Appealing options such as free transportation to and from the event, and AIDS awareness events, seem to be the key to attracting more members to the team.
‘I also sign people up to join the team and give them the ‘5 and 5 challenge,’ which is getting five friends to donate five dollars,’ said Montague.
This event strikes close to home for some of the team members who understand that the funds raised could possibly lead to finding a cure for this deadly disease.
‘I am an African American woman and I am at the top of the scale to contract the disease. So why not walk for the cure that could prevent me from contracting it later,’ said Combre.
Outside of raising money for the cause, volunteer opportunities are also available.
‘Anyone can go down to the AIDS Walk headquarters and help with stuffing envelopes and other projects they have, both before and after the event,’ said Montague. The AIDS Walk Los Angeles has become a major part these students’ lives. Ultimately, the team wants to take part in an event that works towards eliminating a fatal disease, and making the public aware.
‘AIDS has no barriers. It doesn’t matter your sex, age, sexuality, or ethnicity, AIDS can affect anyone, and through this event we have the opportunity to take part in ending a deadly disease,’ said Divan.