Annual AIDS Walk set for Sept. 20

The AIDS walk in Cranbrook is coming up next weekend. The event will take place Sept. 20, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Rotary Park.

The AIDS walk in Cranbrook is coming up next weekend. The event will take place Sept. 20, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Rotary Park.

Alexis Mayne, Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life coordinator, said they are hoping the public will show up and participate. Participants are asked to walk for about 15-25 minutes.

“There will be blessings and speeches and music from Summer Sounds which will be in the park,” Mayne said. “I’m hoping youth will step up and bring some products of their own artsy stuff.”

The walk will be beginning just as the Farmers’ Market is ending.

To sign up, go to www.aidswalkforlife.ca and go to find the Cranbrook walk. Or email Mayne at aidswalkek@gmail.com or call at 250-426-3383.

“I can send them everything they need to have or they can sign up on the day of the walk,” she said.

Signing up prior to the day of the walk gives you a pledge form, so you can collect pledges from colleagues and friends. That’s the main benefit  that signing up beforehand will give you. Donations over $20 are eligible for a tax rebate.

Businesses that want to donate can get free advertising as well, she said.

Already, Mayne said the cause has benefitted from a car wash and a recent garage sale.

“So we have raised a lot of funds,” she said.

“Local tattoo shops and coffee shops which are giving us gift certificates. And Toyota is giving goodie baskets.”

Mayne also provided info about ANKORS (AIDS Network Kootenay Outrach and Support Society) located in the new Cranbrook Family Connections building. They provide a needle exchange program. Mayne said it is one of the only places in town where you can exchange more than one needle.

“It’s kind of hard in Cranbrook to walk in with 100 needles and get 100 needles back. If you’re using drugs or you’re diabetic, you shouldn’t use the same needle twice. We supply all that here to prevent the spread of HIV. We also provide condoms.”

She said they do lots of education presentations in local schools, such as Mt. Baker  and the College of the Rockies.

“We’re just trying to break the stigma about HIV, because it’s something no one wants to talk about and then they have no way to protect themselves against it,” she said. “We’re trying to prevent that, educate and raise awareness.”

They are also raising money that will stay in the East Kootenay and help send people that have HIV to Vancouver to get treatments.

“You have to go all the way to Vancouver to do all of your major stuff,” she said. “That’s not cheap, flying to Vancouver. So if you don’t have the money for it, it is hard.”