Kyle Infante, Communications Intern, and Reed Jackson, Development Associate, at the 2014 Walk

Kyle Infante, Communications Intern, and Reed Jackson, Development Associate, at the 2014 Walk

Each year, the entire AIDS Services of Austin office spends countless hours to put on AIDS Walk Austin. What walkers and attendees see are the lights and acts that take the stage, the food trucks on the street and the tents set up around the park, but there’s so much more that takes place. As a part of the Communications team, I got to see exactly what goes into planning the Walk and making sure everything runs smoothly during the day of the Walk.

The Development department plans and executes AIDS Walk every year. From booking the musical acts to getting the stage set up and planning each detail for the day, every aspect of AIDS Walk is run through our team. That may sound overwhelming, but I wasn’t too concerned leading up to the Walk. Everyone in the office and all of our stage personalities were on top of everything leading up to the event, so I felt really confident.

This year’s Walk was my first, and it was an incredible experience. All of the speakers and musical acts were great, but the best part was seeing the community come out and support the cause. There was a big turn-out for volunteers willing to give their time and labor for the event and an even bigger turn-out for the people participating in the Walk. I spoke to a few people while I took pictures and could feel their passion as they explained why they walked.

Many of my friends have been affected by HIV and AIDS. I’ve seen the way it can drastically affect lives and feel passionately about supporting anything that can make a difference in the lives of these people. The Walk is such an important event because it raises awareness and removes stigma. It also raises funds, and it’s a great time for everyone who shows up.

The opening ceremonies and Roxy Roca had to be my favorite parts. Each speaker was heart-felt and passionate about the cause and truly cared about helping those affected by HIV and AIDS. Mondo Guerra, winner of Project Runway season 8 and Honorary Chair for this year’s walk, gave a moving speech about announcing his HIV-positive status on national television. I loved hearing about his experience and his commitment to advocate for HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention. Roxy Roca was awesome – they played their hearts out and kept the crowd moving through their entire sets.

After it was all said and done, I felt really accomplished with the way the Walk turned out. As one of the people ensuring that everything on-stage went according to plan, keeping up with social media and taking pictures, I was very happy with the day’s events. We put in a lot of time and effort planning the Walk and it was so exciting to see it come to life. We had to work around a few complications that came up during the Walk, but we made it work. Dealing with those issues as they arose and problem-solving was what made it so exciting. I’m so grateful that I was able to participate in the event and plan on being back next year!