Author: AnnaRose King
Close to 100 Occidental students participated in the six-kilometer LA AIDS Walk, Sunday, October 21. Members from the Oxy Tigers AIDS Walk team, Tennis Team, Mortar Board, and Kappa Alpha Theta took part in the AIDS Walk, which closed several West Los Angeles roads, including La Brea, San Vicente, Melrose and Santa Monica Blvd, to host the event.
“The walk [was] a very high energy event, with music along the side and volunteers cheering all the walkers on. People were really having a good time,” Mortar Board member Riley Steiner (senior) said. “I know for our club it was a great bonding experience.”
Other participants included high school volunteers, LA City Cheerleaders, DJs and bands, as well as protesters, who gathered on the sidewalk. “There were protesters along the road and [they] had anti-homosexual signs—it was depressing, but there were only four of them and thousands of people walking,” participant Elizabeth Wytychak (senior) said.
“I don’t comprehend how they think it’s God’s will to hate others. I originally was taken aback, but looking at the ratio [of] their group to our group it made me proud to be a part of something bigger,” Molly Burke (junior) said.
Oxy student groups raised money for the AIDS Walk. Mortar Board raised $300, Theta $1,000, and the Oxy Tigers AIDS Walk team at least $3,000. 11 people participated from Mortar Board and raised their donations through a change drive they held in each residence hall. “We rolled all of [the money] up in our meeting,” Wytychak said.
Occidental students joined over 30,000 participants in raising a record $3,905,723 in donations, “Although the AIDS walk is a fundraiser, it’s also a symbolic event,” Steiner said. “I think it’s really great that we got to be a part of that, along with the broader LA community.”
Students commented on their reasons for participating. “It’s to honor people we love who have suffered from the disease,” Philanthropy Chair of Theta Lucinda King (sophomore) said.
Wytychak said her motivation was “to raise money for AIDS research and AIDS prevention education.”
Several local celebrities, including T.R. Knight and Sara Ramirez from Grey’s Anatomy, participated in the event. Tony award winning Dreamgirls actress Anika Noni Rose sang for the event. The actress kicked off the walk with the Rogers and Hammerstein’s AIDS walk anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
“I feel the Oxy community should be more aware of how awesome it is to be in a crowd of tens of thousands of people, who are all marching for one cause, and who genuinely support one another,” Christine McAuliffe (junior) said. “Chances are you don’t know these people and probably will never see them again, yet they hug you, pat you on the back and say congratulations with unwavering enthusiasm. I want the students of Oxy to know that it is possible to come together in that way.”
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