Over 600 people are expected to ditch their cars and pound the pavement tomorrow in support of victims and families of AIDS in Santa Barbara County.
The 11th-annual Heart and Sole AIDS walk will be held Saturday at Leadbetter Beach near Santa Barbara Harbor. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the 10-kilometer walk will start at 10:30. The Pacific Pride Foundation, an umbrella organization for AIDS Project Central Coast, organized the event. Both organizations provide support and services to people living with, or affected by, AIDS.
Participants in the walk include teams from 115 businesses in Santa Barbara County as well as clubs, organizations and individuals, according to AIDS Walk Coordinator Peter Wright, who is also the development director at Pacific Pride Foundation.
“We had 600 walkers last year and we expect an increase this year,” he said. “In the last 10 years we’ve raised $1.4 million.”
Corporate sponsorship from companies such as Cox Communications, Big Dog, Gelson’s and Wells Fargo make it possible for all money raised by the participants to go directly to AIDS-related programs and services in Santa Barbara County, Wright said.
“AIDS Project Central Coast is one of the agencies in the Pacific Pride Foundation. We have many successful programs that serve people infected or affected by AIDS,” he said. “One example is our ‘Necessities of Life’ project. We have two food pantries that gave away 14,000 bags of groceries last year to over 400 people affected by AIDS.”
Several groups from the UCSB community are participating in this year’s walk, Pacific Pride Foundation Coordinator of Volunteer Services John Bowlin said.
“So far we have four groups from the Greek system – three sororities and one fraternity – and one service group,” he said. “This is the Circle K Club’s second year helping us out. That is a total of about 60 or 70 people donating their time.”
Simon Taylor-Cox is a 14-year Santa Barbara resident who has participated in the event since its beginning in 1990.
“I began the walk because I was losing so many friends,” he said. “This is a cause that is close to my heart and until there’s a cure, there’s a need to walk for those who need it.”
Pledge sheets are available at the Pacific Pride Foundation, located at 126 E. Haley St., suite A-11.