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The Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival has raised millions of dollars for local and national HIV/AIDS service and advocacy organizations over the past decade. This year they are celebrating their 10th anniversary, and they welcome tens of thousands of people to participate in this year’s five-kilometer walk, which will be held at South Beach Park on Fort Lauderdale Beach (north of the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort) on Sunday, March 22. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 10 a.m.FLAIDSWalk_AHF

Presented by AHF Pharmacy, this walk raises money for a number of organizations, such as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, who has a large presence in South Florida. Local organizations that benefit from funds raised at the Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival include The Pride Center at Equality Park, Broward House, SunServe, and the Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center. With the money raised from this event, these organizations can continue their HIV testing, counseling, education and prevention work, and even expand the services they currently offer, reaching more residents and helping to continue the downward spiral of new HIV infection cases here in South Florida.

The Florida AIDS Walk and its organizers are committed to achieving three major goals: to raise FLAIDSWalk_copy2funds for HIV/AIDS services in Florida; to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Florida, and to let people know that over 30 years later, this struggle is still ongoing; and providing participants with an unforgettable day of events, starting with a walk and ending with food trucks, music and lots of fun.

The day starts with registration, which begins at 7:30 a.m. At 9 a.m., representatives from the AIDS Walk will welcome all of the participants at the main stage. Then, at 10, the walk will begin, and usually takes people between one and two hours to complete. Starting at 11 a.m., food trucks will begin serving lots of delicious treats and the music will start shortly afterwards.

This year’s headlining group is Salt-N-Pepa. The group consists of “Salt” (Cheryl James), “Pepa” (Sandra Denton), and “Spinderella” (Deidra Roper). They released their first album, Hot, Cool & FLAIDSWalk_copy3Vicious, in 1986 and it yielded one of their best-selling singles, “Push It.” It reached the top twenty in the U.S. and #2 in the U.K., and with that single, they became the first female rappers to achieve platinum sales on both sides of the pond. Their next album, A Salt with a Deadly Pepa (1988) reached gold status. The album Blacks’ Magic (1990) sold over 1.6 million copies and the singles “Do You Want Me” and “Let’s Talk About Sex” became pop radio staples. It was their album Very Necessary (1993), however, that was their top seller, being certified five times platinum and earning the group a Grammy Award. The singles “Shoop,” “Whatta Man” and “None of Your Business” instantly became hits. After taking some time off, the group rebanded in 2007 and they have since resumed touring. You can even see them on TV right now, singing “Push It” in commercials for GEICO.

Want to participate? Here’s how you can do just that. Go to floridaaidswalk.donordrive.com and complete the registration form.┬áThe registration cost for each walker is $25. Then you get other people to pledge money in your name when you participate. Walkers must pledge to raise at least $250 per person. Right now nearly $50,000 has been raised, and organizers are confident that they will reach their goal of $1 million when all is said and done.

Can’t participate but want to help? You can donate directly to the participant or team of your choice by clicking “Make a Donation” and searching for your desired person or group. You can also make a one-time donation, or a monthly recurring donation, directly to Florida AIDS Walk. That option is on the same webpage.

Supporting sponsors of the Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival include the Sun-Sentinel, MDS Builders, Wells Fargo, The Miami Herald, American Airlines, Starbucks, Target, W Fort Lauderdale, Westin Fort Lauderdale, LabCorp, Cardinal Health, and many others.

For more information on the Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival, visit floridaaidswalk.com. Follow them on Facebook as well at facebook.com/floridaaidswalk.