Building Momentum and Empowering the Community
With increasing momentum, the Northeast Indiana AIDS Walk moved to Headwaters Park in 2007. By 2010, the Northeast Indiana AIDS Walk had adopted the popular theme of “Vive le Rouge,” grossing over $65,000 and attracting more than 800 people! The event became more like a festival with live music, food and pieces of the National AIDS Memorial Quilt. Ron Haas, a volunteer on the AIDS Walk planning committee for over two decades, remembers being surprised at the outpouring of community support in Fort Wayne at the time. “It was a very nonjudgmental, safe environment.”
Over the years, countless individuals have participated in the event, whether as volunteers, supporters, or walkers. For many, the event holds special significance due to personal connections to the cause, whether through their own experiences with HIV/AIDS or the experiences of loved ones. Donna Brooke attended the very first northeast Indiana AIDS Walk and spent the next two decades asking her customers at Henry’s Restaurant to support and donate to the event each year, raising thousands of dollars over time.
Ron Haas, a former client of the Positive Resource Connection, volunteered for 25 years on the AIDS Walk planning committee. As a client and person living with HIV, Ron was passionate about helping the agency and serving others in his community. “If the agency is providing me support and care, I better be there to support them.” Over time, Ron became a crucial member of the planning committee, managing several logistical aspects of the event.
Top walkers Scott Tarr and Jimmie King each got involved with the Walk on behalf of close friends affected by the disease. In the early 1990s, Scott lost two close friends to AIDS who had to make difficult choices about treatment with adverse side effects. “I vowed then that I would do everything I could to prevent others from having to make a decision like that.” Over the course of 15 years, Scott helped raise tens of thousands of dollars in donations towards AIDS Walk. Jimmie King walked and raised funds in support of his friends living with HIV and is proud of the strides AIDS Walk has taken in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS. “Everyone needs to be educated. Everyone needs to be empowered.”