Next Sunday, October 20 marks the 27th annual AIDS Walk Philly, the largest HIV/AIDS awareness and fundraising event in the Delaware Valley.

Participants can choose between a 12K walk and 5K run to show their support. The day starts bright and early with a 7:15 a.m. yoga session, followed by on-site registration at 7:30 a.m. The 5K Run begins at 8 a.m. but the Opening Ceremony for the main event—the Walk—begins at 8:30 a.m., allowing the walkers to be on their way by 9 a.m.

As for the 5K Run, each runner is asked to do fundraising of at least $50 in order to enter the event (Top fundraisers to date are listed here.) Runners who enter by October 15 are eligible to pick up their bibs and t-shirts ahead of time, rather than waiting until the day of the race. Early check-in will take place Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 17-19, at the AIDS Fund Office located at 1315 Spruce Street. If you are running as part of a team, the team captain can turn in all donations at the early check-in.

That Sunday, walkers will leave from the foot of the Art Museum, travel down Kelly Drive before turning around at the Falls Bridge and looping back towards the finish at the Art Museum via MLK Boulevard.  5K runners will go straight onto MLK Boulevard before returning to the Art Museum.

There is still time to register by calling (215) 731-WALK. Volunteers are also welcome to register by calling or e-mailing If you're feeling especially energetic, you can request an early volunteer shift to allow you to participate in the walk itself as well.

"With 30,000 people in the greater Philadelphia area living with HIV/AIDS, perhaps the most astounding thing is that about 1/3 of them don't know it," said Cari Feiler Bender, spokesperson for AIDS Fund . "And the money raised here stays here—we have 29 partner organizations that will benefit from this event."

Bender shared the story of "Diana", a volunteer for one of the initial AIDS Walk event who in 1997 learned she herself was HIV-positive—while pregnant with twins. Thanks in large part to the funds raised by the event, Diana was able to get the care she and her children needed. The babies were born HIV-negative, and Diana received job training and other assistance to help her through an unimaginably trying time.

This coming spring, the twins will graduate from high school—with Diana there to cheer them on.

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