On the rain-soaked morning of Oct. 1 about 2,500 participants gathered for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago's ( AFC ) 15th annual AIDS Run & Walk outside of Soldier Field.
This year's theme was Band Together.
WGN Entertainment Reporter Dean Richards kicked off the opening ceremony ahead of the 5K walk, 5K run and 10K run alongside performances by the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus and Jeff Award-nominee Donica Lynn, and remarks by Hamilton Chicago cast member Joseph Morales ( Alexander Hamilton alternate ) and entertainer Honey West.
Joy Miles of Fitness Formula Clubs led a warmup stretch session for participants.
For the second year in a row, participants were able to pick out a COLORband denoting their status at the eventliving with HIV, caretaker or family member of someone with HIV, lost someone to AIDS-related complications, having a vision for an AIDS-free generation, AIDS healthcare provider, a Super Strider, AFC staff member or volunteer. This was the second year the bands were available to wear.
"We're a little disappointed that it's rained but we've been incredibly lucky with the weather in the past," said AFC President and CEO John Peller. "What's amazing is, despite the rain, people are sticking together and completing this event because they made a commitment to their donors and friends and I think that really shows the power of this event as a community-building exercise.
"We've raised $471,531 so far today and most importantly we have 33 Community Direct teams. That's 33 agencies doing work who are directly benefitting from AIDS Run & Walk. For some of the smaller agencies, this critical unrestricted money will be used to help clients with food or transportation or emergency services that they otherwise wouldn't be able to provide."
AFC funnels 90 percent of the money raised at this event to the participating Community Direct teams. Fundraising will be ongoing throughout October.
Performer and activist Delia Kropp hosted the closing ceremony with music provided by DJ Moose.
Part of the NAMES Project Memorial Quilt was set to be on display, however, the rain prevented that from happening.
The CORE Center provided free HIV testing and information about HIV/AIDS prevention including PrEP.
Winners in the 10K race included Sheila Murphy in the women's category, Milo Vieland in the gender-neutral category and Jamie Kelly in the male category. The 5K winners were Kimberly McClain in the women's category, Timothy Carbonara in the gender-neutral category and Mark Scheitler in the male category.