By Barbara Shelly, The Beacon
The morning of Saturday, April 25, dawned crisp and clear — perfect conditions for Kansas City’s 32nd annual AIDS Walk.
But this year, Theis Park in Kansas City was empty at 9:30 a.m., when hundreds of walkers should have been gathered to sip coffee, greet friends and listen to pre-race announcements. Instead, organizers went live on Facebook with radio celebrities talking up the event from an indoor studio. At 10 a.m., walkers took to the streets alone or in carefully spaced pairs or trios, narrating the trek for an online audience.
AIDS Walk organizers opted to go virtual on March 18, in those chaotic days when Kansas City was shutting down to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “Nobody wanted to do it, but we all united for the cause,” said Michael Lintecum, event director.
The walk usually raises about $500,000 for agencies that serve people affected by the virus that causes AIDS. As of this week, fundraising stood at more than $300,000 — less than the goal, but better than Lintecum had feared.
“Long after COVID-19 is over we’re still going to have to provide services for people living with AIDS,” he said.