LOS ANGELES —Thousands of people taking part in California AIDS Walk, an innovative, family-friendly daylong festival, charity walk and concert on Sunday September 26th at Los Angeles’ famed Greek Theatre on Vermont Avenue in Griffith Park will be feted later that same evening for their efforts raising funds for crucial lifesaving HIV/AIDS services in California with a concert at the Greek featuring a dynamic array of musicians, entertainers and special guests. The concert, dubbed California AIDS Walk’s “Circle of Life,” will be hosted by comedienne and entertainer Wanda Sykes and include special appearances by actor Blair Underwood (President Elias Martinez on ‘The Event’) and Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson, Jr., both longtime and outspoken advocates for HIV prevention, testing and treatment.
The evening’s ‘Circle of Life’ concert will feature musical performances and appearances by the Agape International Choir; Mindi Abair; Wayne Brady; Cazwell; actress Eden Espinosa (Elphaba from ‘Wicked’); Hanson; Sheila E; Siedah Garrett; actress Megan Hilty (Glinda from ‘Wicked’); gospel singer Israel Houghton; James Ingram; Jermaine Jackson; Korbee Jones; Steve Lukather (from the band Toto); actor Omar Miller (‘CSI: Miami’) ; David Pack; the Alan Parsons Project; actor Scott Patterson (‘The Event’), Jai Rodriguez; Shontelle; actor Rich Sommer (‘Mad Men’); Toad the Wet Sprocket; actress Lisa Vidal (First Lady Christina Martinez, on ‘The Event’); Jennifer Leigh Warren; Charles Wright; country singers Deana Carter; Billy Dean; Brett Eldredge and James Otto; as well as an all-star tribute to the music of Michael Jackson.
For California AIDS Walk participants, the day starts at 2pm with a Festival offering over 20 different free food vendors and food trucks from some of L.A.’s leading restaurants, two live music stages and rides for all ages including our very own Ferris Wheel, Pirate Ship Ride, Giant Slide, Climbing Wall, Game Booths and the Magic Johnson Free Throw Toss—all of which are included in the benefit bash. At 4:30pm, as the Food & Music Festival continues, our 5K California AIDS Walk (optional 3K) to raise awareness about, and help reverse the continuing epidemic of HIV/AIDS in California, takes us through beautiful Griffith Park. The Walk will begin and end at the Greek Theatre with plenty of entertainment and refreshments along the way. Walkers may kick back and picnic with free food while listening to music tucked in the shade of the walnut, mahogany and oak trees in the largest municipal park in the entire U.S.
At 6:30pm, the day culminates with ‘Stars under the Stars!’–an uplifting concert for all walkers and participants. For three hours, our California AIDS Walkers will enjoy some of music's finest at the iconic Greek. Proceeds from California AIDS Walk will benefit the HIV/AIDS efforts of eight respected Southern California non-profit organizations: AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Service Center, Bienestar, Charles Drew Mobile Testing, Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, In the Meantime, Magic Johnson Foundation and Whittier Rio Hondo AIDS Project. One hundred percent of proceeds raised by California AIDS Walk will go toward the expansion of HIV/AIDS testing, education and prevention initiatives in Southern California, and throughout the state. It will also support: GLBT education, advocacy and services; specialized services meeting the needs of the economically disadvantaged, marginalized youth, seniors and people’s of differing abilities; specialized, comprehensive care of children and youth with HIV/AIDS; and improving the lives of individuals living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS.
“We are putting a new, California-flavored twist on a tried and true vehicle for raising funds for, and awareness about HIV/AIDS with this daylong food and music festival, walk and terrific evening concert at the Greek,” said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President. “California AIDS Walk offers all participants the chance to have a truly great time—walking, eating, dancing and enjoying music on a lovely September Sunday—an innovative way to raise funds for eight local Southern California agencies working tirelessly in the fight against HIV and AIDS all year long.”
“It’s a party with a cause,” said Dana Miller, AHF consultant and the organizer of California AIDS Walk. “It’s a day of coming together in the wonderful spirit of caring, compassion, commitment and celebration and we thank all the great performers and entertainers who are joining us in this effort. With the public’s help, we hope California AIDS Walk will raise over one million dollars to provide direct care and services to the patients and clients of these eight worthy organizations.”
HIV/AIDS in the US and California
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet (“The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in the United States,” September 2009), there are approximately 1.1 million people thought to be living with HIV/AIDS in the US today; of these, 468,000 are living with an AIDS-defining illness. California has the second highest number of cumulative AIDS cases in the nation (65,582) representing over 14% of the US total. Each year, an estimated 56,000 new HIV infections take place in this country, and it is believed that up to 21% of the 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS do not know they are infected.