Walking for AIDS

If you would like to sponsor me in the Toronto AIDS Walk For Life, please donate at: Walk for Life Donations: Ian Bowles.

 It’s upon us again: that time of year is approaching. I’ve been asked to participate in a number of walks this year, but this is one that I feel is particularly important. I have been involved in HIV/AIDS walks for many years: this kind of charity is one that I feel is important, is needed and is often passed by. Here in Canada/Toronto there is at least some understanding of the stigma that people infected with HIV must carry in their daily lives; in Arkansas it was worse. I remember once, when I was a manager at the Pulaski Area GIS (PAGIS), one of my employees started a rumour about me being HIV+. Knowing who it was, it really didn’t offend me as far as it being a lie (one did not expect much more from him) nor that it was a complete invasion of my privacy. What offended me was that it was the “worst” thing he could do to me.

One of the reasons I pushed for the Walk every year in Arkansas was that the recipient of the donations not only sponsored HIV/AIDS research, but they supported people living with the virus who often had no-one else. I knew several people whose lives were destroyed when they found they were HIV+. The drugs were expensive, and if you had no health insurance, they were rough. That on top of the stigma, which meant you couldn’t tell many people, and those who were HIV+ had a difficult time of it.

There may not be as many such stories in Ontario, but there are some. People who slip through the cracks, in whatever shape those cracks may come. It is important to support these organizations to help the cracks from getting wider. With the current levels of budget cutbacks: with those who are rich hoarding their investments and those who are poor finding they can’t afford to give, events like this are very important.

My pictures from last year’s walk in Toronto are on my flickr site, as are my pictures from the Arkansas AIDS Walk in 2005 and the NCCJ’s Walk for Life, also in 2005. (In last year’s photo set, take particular notice of picture 204_0448. This is Jack Layton, the leader of our NDP party, who has taken a leave of absence from the political grind due to health concerns.) I’ve walked for charity many times in the past.

One of the reasons I enjoy these walks is not only because I’m participating in helping others: but because for so long I could not. When I first came out of my coma in 2001, I couldn’t walk at all. A month later, I could barely walk around the block. (One of my last memories of my Dad was him encouraging me to finish a single lap around the block at home.) Now I can walk a lot further, so I try to help people with what I can do.

If you would like to sponsor me in the Toronto AIDS Walk For Life, please donate at: Walk for Life Donations: Ian Bowles.

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