AIDS Walk Steps Off 25th Year With 20 Percent Drop
In the wake of scores of millions of dollars worth of cuts made by the governor to state AIDS funding, the economy dropped another shoe this weekend despite over 30,000 people turning out to walk for the 25th AIDS Walk LA.
Donations fell from last year’s record high of nearly $4 million down to just $3.15 million this year, below 2005 levels.
Craig Miller, founder and producer of the event, expressed gratitude and relief, saying, "We are so happy to have done as well as we did this year; we were concerned that donations might be off even more."
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger cut the state Office of AIDS’ budget in half by $82.4 million in an effort to balance this year’s budget.
AIDS Project Los Angeles, the primary beneficiary of the AIDS Walk, lost $1.6 million in that round of cuts.
The 30,000 in attendance gathered at the West Hollywood starting point (nearly doubling WeHo’s population for the morning) to hear dignitaries and celebrities give thanks.
At the top of the long celeb list stood "Weeds" star Mary Louise Parker and Latoya Jackson.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined WeHo Mayor Abbe Land in greeting several state assembly members, a Los Angeles city council member, a city comptroller and a congresswoman.
From Washington D.C. came Jeffrey Crowley, who is the Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Senior Advisor on Disability Policy at the White House.
He timed the continuance of the touring National HIV/AIDS Community Discussion to coincide with AIDS Walk; the event took place Sunday night at Hollywood High School.
"These Discussions, hosted by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), offer the public a chance to provide input as the White House works to fulfill the President’s pledge to develop a National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS)," explains a White House press release.
Since 1985, the event has raised more than $63 million for HIV programs and services throughout Los Angeles County.