Photo courtesy of Prism Health North Texas
This year marks the 30th anniversary of LifeWalk, but there are no pool parties or large events. Most bars and restaurants are closed or operating under limited capacity, and LifeWalk will be online.
The annual fundraiser began in 1991 as a response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. As the epidemic began affecting LGBTQ+ communities, various organizations began popping up to raise money, curb the stigma against the disease and protest the government’s response to the spread. Oak Lawn Community Services, which later became Prism Health North Texas, began the walk as a way to raise money to combat HIV/AIDS and provide “hope, compassion and care” to those affected.
LifeWalk is more of a season than a singular event, says Terry Walker, Prism Health’s event coordinator. The festivities begin in February or March and continue until the event in October.
This year, the Oct. 11 walk is entirely virtual, but it harkens back to its first few years with a ’90s theme.
Participants are asked to walk, bike, swim or run 5 kilometers. A livestream will feature various speakers, events, surprises and performances to celebrate the 30th anniversary.
“We’re talking to some team members about possibly going down to Turtle Creek Park where the walk would normally start and going down and walking some and videotaping it,” Green says. “Our team is a little older, and with COVID they’re real scared, but we can put our masks on and go try it.”
For Green, the event is not just a fundraiser but a way to remember those who have died from HIV/AIDS. Green lost about 25 friends from the virus. Dan Gueths, former chair of LifeWalk and 24-year participant, became involved because of friends he lost.
“There were two people that I worked with at the American Heart Association that became sick with HIV/AIDs, and both had subsequently died within the first couple of years that I was involved in LifeWalk,” Gueths says. “That was kind of the driving force that got me more involved with it, because of a personal connection with the people that I knew.”
Green says one of his best memories is walking with his friend Eddie in the late ’90s. Eddie was HIV positive, and he died about a year later.
“He was just a great friend, and we lost him, but he got out there and walked in the heat and could barely do it,” says Green. “But he did it.”
The Green Team has raised about $352,805 for LifeWalk over the years, all without the help of corporations.
Donations have decreased this year, and Walker says more supporters are needed to fund housing, testing and support to those affected by HIV/AIDS.
The 30th anniversary of LifeWalk is totally virtual on Oct. 11. Donate and learn more at lifewalk.org.