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VIDEO: AIDS Walk San Diego takes to the streets Sunday

SAN DIEGO – With more than 10,000 walkers and runners expected to participate in Sunday’s AIDS Walk & Run San Diego, there are just as many – if not more – reasons why people have decided to join in this year’s event.

Sally Hall, owner of online LGBT media site That’s So Gay Live, is walking because she loves.

Community member Jasen Sansever is walking for the people he loves who he has lost and the people who are still here today living with HIV or AIDS.

Activist and photographer Big Mike Phillips is walked for those he has lost to AIDS as a way of honoring their lives.

Mr. San Diego Leather 2010 Anthony Rollar is walking for everyone.

And local superstar entertainer Grace Towers is walking so she doesn’t have to walk later.

These are just some of the many reasons why San Diegans have pledged to walk this year through a campaign coordinated by the San Diego LGBT Community Center that encouraged people to create a visual of who or what they walk for. Dozens of people submitted photos of themselves holding up a sign that read “I walk for…” and filled in the blank with their own personal reason.

Now in its 23rd year, AIDS Walk & Run San Diego has become the largest single day HIV/AIDS fundraiser in San Diego County, typically raising nearly a half-million dollars that is granted out to local charities.

Many of the organizations that receive funding from the walk rely on the annual grant to help sustain their life-saving services. HIV/AIDS service providers that received funding from 2011’s event include organizations like Family Health Centers of San Diego, Christie’s Place, Mama’s Kitchen, the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program and Being Alive.

The Big Yellow Shoe

One of the signature visual images of AIDS Walk San Diego is the “big yellow shoe.” Part of the event’s branding, San Diegans have come to recognize this image as the symbol of AIDS Walk. The shoe is also used as a recognition tool for walking teams that are able to add 10 or more members to their ranks by a certain date in advance of the event.

Those teams that reach the membership milestone will get their team name printed on a large version of the big yellow shoe and proudly carry it during the event to proclaim their team’s name.

Ian Johnson, one of the event’s coordinators, said that 101 teams qualified for the “big yellow shoe” recognition this year.


Organizing a walking team for the event is a big deal for many organizations, companies and friend or family groups. AIDS Walk organizers rely on the efforts of many of the more robust teams to bring in a great deal of revenue to the event.

There are over 100 teams participating this year, ranging from groups employees and patrons at local bars like #1 Fifth Ave.; corporate teams such as the “Sharp Stars;” school and youth groups like “All Out at City College;” and community organizations like PFLAG San Diego.

On the AIDS Walk website, community members are able to view a scrolling up-to-date listing of the top 10 teams, which keeps a spirit of friendly competition alive throughout the weeks leading up to the event, encouraging teams to go out and raise more and more money for the event.

As of Friday morning, the top 10 teams are:

The San Diego LGBT Community Center

Sempra Energy/SDG&E

Martinis Above Fourth

Guys Like Us

San Ysidro Health Center


Rotary & Friends

Young Professionals Council

County of San Diego

UCSD Communities

Many teams hosted a number of fundraisers in the months leading up to the event, including Guys Like Us, which held two pool parties this summer; Martinis Above Fourth held a “End of Summer Splash” show; and the Young Professionals Council which held a happy hour mixer last week.

Event details

It’s not too late to sign up for the event. Participants may choose to walk or run as an individual or as part of a team.

Registration for walkers is $35 and starting at noon today, registration for the run is $50.

Walkers who are already registered may speed up the check-in process by attending the pre-registration event on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 11 am to 3 pm at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, located at 3900 Centre St. in Hillcrest.

Runners may pick-up their bibs between 12-4 pm on Saturday, Sept. 29 at The Center or between 6-7:30 am on Sunday morning at the corner of 6th Avenue and Quince Street in Balboa Park.

The event site opens at 6 am Sunday in Balboa Park, with opening ceremonies beginning at 7 am.

Emmy-winning Fox 5 reporter Matt Johnson will host the ceremonies, which will include a pre-walk warm-up, welcomes, performances, and music by DJ Sandra Ware.

The 10K run begins at 8 am, and the 5K walk begins at 8:15 am.

For registration or more information, click HERE.

SDGLN Media Parnter Flawles at last year's AIDS Walk & Run San Diego