Scotiabank Aids Walk Toronto
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations
On September 10, 2017, Sunday, I, together with my family will join the Scotiabank Aids Walk in Toronto for the second year. The Scotiabank AIDS Walk is a national awareness and fundraising event that takes place every year in communities all across Canada. The money raised in the walk in Toronto benefits ACT (AIDS Committee Toronto).
Last year’s walk was bittersweet. It was our first time to join this event in memory of Kuya Bot. My sister Lyd who lives in California, with her three children Austin, Skye and Austin joined Jahan, Alexander, my sister-in-law Helene and I on a nice, sunny day in September. We got to Barbara Hall Park on Monteith Street just in time to get a free cup of coffee from Starbucks. As the organizers welcomed the walkers, the tears started flowing. We, along with the rest, did our morning stretches. After all the stretching was done, we prepared ourselves to take this journey. The first few steps were difficult not physically but emotionally. As we trek the streets of downtown Toronto, every step we took was with other family and friends of those who are suffering or may have passed away from HIV/AIDS. Walking with these people was a reminder we are not alone in this painful circumstances. This disease has immensely affected a great deal of people.
The walk wasn’t all tears and sadness. People walking with us were generous with their smiles. Some were wearing their bright wigs; some wore their schoolgirl uniform. We had our white shirts on and a red ribbon pinned on the left hand side of our chest, over the heart.
It is ok to take a break.
As we completed 80% of our walk, we couldn’t resist but to stopped by Coco Fresh Tea & Juice to pick up some of our favorite bubble tea. It was good surprise for the kids and a good break for the adults.
Each walker was given a red carnation to leave at the memorial.
As we made it back to Barbara Hall Park, we were handed red carnations. We didn’t know what it was for. We’ve joined 5k runs and walks in the past but was never handed a flower at the end. Because it was our first time joining the Aids Walk and we were not familiar with the area, we didn’t realize there was an Aids Memorial in the park. Each walker was given a red carnation to leave at the memorial. The AIDS Memorial, designed by Patrick Fahn, opened in 1993 in Barbara Hall Park (formerly known as Cawthra Square Park). It is a physical monument in a park in a neighbourhood that was devastated by AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. It is a special place to grieve those who are gone, to celebrate their lives and courage, and to take pride in our response to AIDS.
The walk is an important reminder that HIV/AIDS is still with us. On a personal note, it is a reminder of our promise that we won’t let Kuya Bot die in vain. We will continue walking to help spread awareness and until we find a cure. We will remain hopeful.
To join or to donate to our team, please go here. Our family will always be grateful.