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AIDS hike part of week of advocacy on the Hill

By Katharine Fuzesi ’17

May 1, 2014

Last Sunday, Hamilton hosted its 16th annual AIDS Hike for Life, a hike around Hamilton that raises money for ACR Health, a nonprofit community-based organization providing services and support to people living with chronic illness. A total of 380 participants were in attendance, including students from local colleges and community members from the Mohawk Valley. Though the event did not reach its goal of $50,000, it did raise $35,906 for ACR. One hundred percent of the funds raised from the hike will go to ACR’s youth HIV/STD prevention programs and client support services.

The event was sponsored by AIDS Community Resources and the AIDS Hike for Life Committee led by Lauren Lanzotti ’14, Jeannine Murtaugh, a recent retiree of the Hamilton College Career Center and Melissa Camman, health development associate at ACR’s Utica branch office. The rest of the board included Student Assembly President Lia Parker-Belfer ’16, other members of SA as well as members from various groups on campus, including Philanthropy Committee, Rainbow Alliance, Black Latino Student Union, the Womyn’s Center and the Greek Council.

Additionally, ACR Director of Development Carrie Portzline-Large, in charge of all ACR’s fundraising events, helped coordinate the hike.

Like other fundraising walks, people form a team and create a page using firstgiving.com, through which friends and family can donate to the cause. Then, each team (featuring people of all ages) comes to Hamilton to relax, have fun and raise awareness about ACR. Additionally, ACR Community Resources hosted other events throughout the year to both raise money and publicize the hike. This year, these fundraising events included the “Sing Off in Opus, where we raised $420 in an hour from the generosity and talent of Hamilton students, trivia nights, Starbucks giveaways… and our Pizza&Wings fundraiser this year,” Lanzotti told The Spectator.

“After the teams raise money,” Lanzotti shared, “we all hike or run the 5k loop around Hamilton. This path is outlined by posters telling us AIDS and HIV related statistics, the names of people who are suffering or who have died from AIDS, places where you can get help or get tested and other information regarding ACR and its mission. We have a big breakfast before the walk and have a lunch and DJ'ed concert after. There is face painting, frisbee, Starbucks and Saranac soda and all kinds of fun events at the hike home base at Babbitt pavilion.” This year, Hamilton’s own Special K formed a team and raised over $3,000. They were awarded the trophy for Top Fundraising for a College Team.   “Their trophy will be displayed in the pub, hopefully inspiring others to step up to the challenge and raise money,” Lanzotti said.

Lanzotti believes in the mission of ACR and walks to support it.  “The hike serves as a reminder that AIDS is still a problem, and it also serves to remind us that the spread of HIV and STDs is 100 percent preventable. We walk, run and raise money so that we can help put a stop to the AIDS epidemic and so that we can encourage everyone everywhere to seek out proper sex education. We also raise money so that we can help those for whom it is too late to prevent.”

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