More than 2,000 people are expected to put their feet down Sunday for what promoters are calling "The Next Step," a fund-raising walkathon to benefit local AIDS programs.
Hoping to raise at least $250,000 in pledges, coordinators have patterned the 10-kilometer event after successful walkathons held in Boston, Los Angeles and New York.
"What's unique is that this is benefiting three organizations that are all on the battlefield of the AIDS epidemic," said Roger Stanley, one of the coordinators for the walk.
Stanley said that proceeds will go to the Whitman-Walker Clinic, which provides counseling and legal, medical and financial support to people with acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Also slated to receive funds from the walk is the Human Rights Campaign Fund, a political action committee focusing on AIDS-related issues such as government services and education. RAP Inc., which provides education to intravenous drug users for prevention of AIDS, also will benefit.
Mayor Marion Barry is honorary chairman of the walkathon and he, along with several members of the D.C. Council and Congress, will lead the walk.
"We've gotten a good response from community, religious and political organizations," said Stanley, who moved to the District from Dallas after the Human Rights Campaign Fund asked him to coordinate the walk.
Families will take part in the walk, children are signing up and "a lot of people have called to say they're walking because they've had friends who have died of AIDS," the coordinator said.
The walk begins at 10 a.m. at the Sylvan Theatre on the Washington Monument grounds. The route is along Constitution Avenue to the Capitol and ends 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) later, back at the Sylvan. Signup begins at 9 a.m., and an opening ceremony is at 9:30 a.m.
There will be refreshments along the route for participants. Tracks disco in Southwest Washington will hold a free barbecue for participants after the walk.
Walkers who raise $100 will also receive one ticket to a celebration to be held at Tracks on July 12; walkers raising $200 will receive two tickets. The person who collects the most in pledges by July 12 will be awarded a trip for two to Key West, Fla.
Several local corporations have sent donations, Stanley said. Anyone who cannot participate but would like to pledge can call the walkathon office at 628-4164.
Although half of the reported cases of AIDS in the District are among blacks , black registration for the walkathon has been low, Stanley said. Coordinators are hoping to attract a cross section of Washington area residents.
Said Stanley, "The walk is a positive means for reaching all communities, because all communities are affected by AIDS."