Hundreds take steps for AIDS


By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor


Hundreds of Mississippians spent a recent Sunday afternoon showing they care about those with HIV/AIDS.


More than 400 people took part in the April 6 Footsteps in Hope 8K run/walk at Ross Barnett Reservoir in Ridgeland. The event was co-sponsored by the Mississippi Conference.


"I think things went really well," said Liz Coleclough, who organized the event. "We raised nearly $20,000. It's a welcoming way to approach the subject. We're discussing a serious issue but bringing it up in a welcoming manner. To have people essentially be vocal about HIV/AIDS is a huge accomplishment."


The event was designed to raise awareness and research funds for HIV/AIDS. The distance of the event represents the 8,000 people who die daily from HIV/AIDS and related illnesses. Participants were encouraged to form teams and seek sponsors for the event. Large groups of students took part, including groups from Millsaps College, Jackson State University and Mississippi Valley State University. Several Jackson-area churches also had teams involved.


Students from Jackson State arrived on a chartered bus and set up a tent with refreshment for its participants. "I'm really proud of JSU," said sophomore Ameera Haamid of Aurroa, Ill. "We have a lot of people here. The proceeds go to help people, and we wanted to help people anyway we could.


One group sported T-shirts with the name "IMoSA" on the front. The letters stood for "In Memory of Steve Allen" who died of AIDS in 1991. "We are some friends of Steve and his brother," said Sherry Allen of Brandon. "We decided to have a team because of Steve. We had started exercising (as a group) and wanted to participate to have a project to do on Sunday afternoon. The AIDS appeal became more meaningful."


Andy Fredrick of Jackson and Hunter Berch of Starkville were among the Millsaps students taking part. Both are members of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, which became involved as part of a community service project. Most of the college's Greek organizations were involved as part of the culmination of Greek Week at Millsaps. Berch is vice president of the Mississippi Conference Student Movement.


Funds raised by the event will help:

University Medical Center Adult Special Care

University Medical Center Pediatric AIDS Care

Mississippi Episco-pal AIDS Committee Emergency Care

• Grace House

• Hope Project, the global arm of Footsteps that is working to enhance clinical and community health in Zimbabwe


The Rev. Tim Thompson, superintendent of the Meridian District who is coordinating conference efforts to fight AIDS, said earlier this year that plans call for a series of workshops and seminars around the conference. Those are expected to take place sometime after Annual Conference in June.