As the thousands of walkers streamed through downtown Royal Oak Sunday morning, people cheered, horns honked – and those who were lost were remembered.
At least 1,400 people – and possibly as many as 2,500 – hit the pavement for Steppin’ Outs Aids Walk Detroit 2011. Sunday marked the 21st anniversary of AIDS Walk Detroit.
The walk-a-thon raised over $160,000 last year and has generated over $3.5 million to local agencies since its inception in 1991. "Our goal is to raise over $200,000 this year," said Derek Zachariah, treasurer of Steppin' Out. "We're expecting a total of 2,500 participants. 1,400 pre-registered online, an increase of 15 percent over last year."
Steppin’ Out provides financial support to more than 25 different agencies that offer direct care services, prevention and education programs to those living with HIV/AIDS.
The organization also promotes public awareness through events and activities designed to assure people living with HIV/AIDS are treated with dignity and respect.
Walkers came to support those who are living with HIV/AIDS and friends and family members who have died from the disease. Su Ferrari of Ferndale walked in memory of a "very dear family member who died from AIDS in 1993."
Eric Turnquist, one of the many volunteers on hand to help run this large event, said he wanted to give back. "Volunteering is something my family has always done," he said.