Staff Report

FT. LAUDERDALE — Thousands of people from across the state recently helped raise $640,000 for lifesaving HIV/AIDS services in South Florida in the Florida AIDS Walk 2011.

The March 20 walk surpassed the $460,000 raised last year, as well as this year’s goal of $500,000.   The 10K walk, which started and ended at Huizenga Plaza in Ft. Lauderdale, was intended to raise funds and generate awareness about, and help reverse the continuing epidemic of, HIV/AIDS in South Florida.

The opening ceremony included entertainment, with performances by Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida and recording artist Nicole Henry. Several participants took advantage of the free HIV testing—through two of AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s mobile testing units—offered at the end of the walk.

“On behalf of the Florida AIDS Walk family, it is with joy and gratitude that we are able to announce that the Florida AIDS Walk 2011 far surpassed our initial fundraising expectations by raising a remarkable $640,000,” Mark Martin, Florida AIDS Walk director, said in a statement.

“Thanks to the support of our motivated Walkers, compassionate donors, and generous sponsors, our community has been given a much needed gift that will be used to continue our efforts in prevention education, HIV testing, and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS, all right here in Florida,” Martin said.

Florida AIDS Walk 2011 was  presented by AHF Pharmacy and was dedicated to raising awareness of the fact that more than 167,000 Floridians are living with HIV/AIDS. The event also aimed to  generate as much financial support as possible to provide the lifesaving care and services that they need, the statement said.

Proceeds from the walk will go toward expanding HIV prevention and testing in Broward and Miami Dade counties.  Beneficiaries of this year’s walk are AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Broward House, SunServe, the Pride Center at Equality Park and Women In Network.