Thursday, September 16, 2004

New Mexico AIDS Walk 2004

Each year in memory of Alberto, my dear friend who lost his 10 year battle with AIDS in December of 2002, my friends and family participate in the Albuquerque AIDS Walk.  This walk is a 5K (3.1 miles), and it takes place on Central Avenue - right up the center of town.  The AIDS Walk's main purpose is to raise money to fund programs like: Necessities of Life Food Bank (NOLB), Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS), Case Management, Anonymous Testing & Counseling, Emergency Support Program, Housing Services, Emotional Support/Counseling, Family Services, Men's Health Project, Project for Women, Street Outreach, MPower, and the Wellness Center.  Of course we also want to raise awareness about AIDS and New Mexico AIDS services. 

This year, both state and federal funding to AIDS programs and research were cut drastically.  (Thank you, George W. Bush, Heather Wilson, Pete Domenici and Bill Richardson, ya jerks.)  This elimination of funding directly affected NMAS and the services they provide.  So far, this has meant that over 400 clients no longer have case management, including health care, counseling, homecare, and any other support they may need. Yes, they have been turning people away. The food bank has now decreased operation from three days per week to two days per MONTH.  Programs have been eliminated, including home health care, emotional support and emergency support programs.  The Women and Children programs are reducing and/or eliminating many services.

AIDS is a wicked disease.  The entire time Alberto suffered with AIDS he was in pain.  He often had open, ulcerating sores coupled with nerve damage that made it painful to stand, sit or lie down.  He had trouble eating and maintaining a healthy weight.  He was in and out of hospitals with pneumonia or sinus infections.  He took cocktails of over 20 pills at a time, three or more times a day.  I spent the last week of his life with him, and I have never watched someone suffer so horribly.  During that week, we prayed each day for his suffering to end.  Millions of people worldwide, including children, suffer with this disease today.  Reducing and/or eliminating government funding is not only ridiculous, its inexcusable.

Not many of my AOL friends live in New Mexico, but I'd like to invite you to check out your local AIDS services office.  Give or volunteer if you can.  Take advantage of free testing and educational services they provide.

For those of you who do live in New Mexico, please consider donating your time or money.  Here's the link to donate, the link to the walk and NMAS is in my favorites list.  http://www.guidestar.org/partners/networkforgood/donate.jsp?ein=85-0335085  The walk takes place September 25 and starts from Johnson Field at UNM - you can park on campus.  Registration begins at 8:00 AM, Opening Ceremony at 9:00AM, the walk begins at 9:30AM and winds up with a Closing Ceremony at 11:00.  If nothing else, come out and support the walkers, meet some great people and have a good time.  You can always go hang out at the Frontier afterwards, grab a sweet roll or one of their awesome breakfast burritos.

There's my deal - one of the many things I'm very passionate about.  If I ever find my camera, maybe I'll take some pics of the walk and post for you.

Donate, Educate, Get Tested!!

Thanks for reading - happy Thursday!!!

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