Sayra Reyes

More than 300 people passionate about AIDS awareness and support strapped on their shoes and pumped brightly colored posters and signs against AIDS up and down as they walked around downtown San Luis Obispo for the 16th Annual Walk for Life this Saturday. They raised nearly $80,000.

The San Luis Obispo County AIDS Support Network (ASN) held its yearly walk Nov. 3 at Santa Rosa Park to raise money for locals with HIV and AIDS as well as their loved ones.

Individuals as well as clubs and organizations from both campus and the San Luis Obispo community joined and walked the 10-kilometer route.

Noe Mora, a liberal studies junior and a member of the Latin fraternity Lambda Theta Phi, participated in the Walk for Life with the group.

“We do it to raise awareness, not because we have to, because we choose to,” said Mora. “AIDS impacts all of humanity and is not limited to race. Our goal is to help those who struggle with the disease and inform those who are unaware of its devastation.”

Executive Director Edie Kahn said, “We’re excited the walk is on the calendar for Homecoming Week. We’re pleased that for the past many years, Cal Poly has been a friend of the AIDS Support Network.”

Registration for the walk began at 9 a.m. The day began with an introduction followed by the walk at 10 a.m., then a barbecue at noon and the awards ceremony for teams and individuals who raised the most money.

While ASN expected a greater turnout this year because of the Homecoming Week publicity, there are usually about 300 attendees at the walk, which some refer to as a “snack and stroll.”

“It’s a relaxing day,” said Kahn. “It’s not just to have a good time but it’s also for awareness.”

In the first walk 16 years ago, $7,000 was raised, which is considerably less than what was raised this year.

“What that shows is overwhelming support and how it has grown,” said Kahn. “It translates into real support for our clients, monetary and all-around general support. It shows how ASN has been accepted in the community.”

“It’s a meaningful day. It shows the community is behind us.”

ASN, a United Way Partner Agency, was founded in 1984 and remains the only non-profit organization in San Luis Obispo County that offers supportive services to residents with HIV and AIDS as well as their family and friends. Some of these services include HIV testing, education and social services. ASN depends on dedicated volunteers to coordinate its fundraising events and its services to nearly 150 clients.

While ASN receives funding from many sources such as United Way, San Luis Obispo County, the City of San Luis Obispo, FEMA and corporate and private donations, the organization still needs donations to continue offering its services.

The ASN House is located at 1320 Nipomo St. and is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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