AIDS Run & Walk Chicago Kicks-Off Sept. 28 With Multiple Routes And Dates

Tue. September 22, 2020 7:59 AM by Ross Forman

photo credit // ashley brown and brian solem, afc

Changes in 2020 AIDS Run & Walk Chicago due to coronavirus pandemic

The 19th annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago – benefitting the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) and 24 community partner agencies that provide essential programs and services to Chicagoans living with and vulnerable to HIV, AIDS and other chronic illnesses – is a go. But naturally, with an asterisk.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 28, event participants from across Chicago and beyond will safely gather for the expanded 2020 AIDS Run & Walk Chicago. For the first time, the event features 5K and 10K race routes across the city's neighborhoods throughout the week to minimize crowds. The week-long event concludes Saturday, Oct. 3, at Soldier Field.

“Each year, the event raises vital awareness and funds for AFC, in addition to community partner agencies. These funds and sense of community are needed now more than ever as individuals are now being impacted by COVID-19, and many agencies, like AFC, have expanded services to provided COVID-19 related support,” said John Peller, AFC President & CEO.

The AIDS Run & Walk Chicago will have multiple options for participation. All offerings will be aligned with local and state public safety guidelines. The schedule for socially distant walks or runs at five neighborhood pop-ups throughout the week is:

Monday, Sept. 28: Douglass Park

Tuesday, Sept. 29: Uptown & Lakeview

Wednesday, Sept. 30: Dunbar Park

Thursday, Oct. 1: The Loop/Grant Park

Friday, Oct. 2: Washington Park/Hyde Park

Note: reservations for in-person participation will be required to promote social distancing

Participants can run or walk at their own pace in their own place. Registrants will be given access to download a virtual app for tracking their participation anywhere and anytime.

The AIDS Run & Walk Celebration on Oct. 3 at Soldier Field will be shown live on AFC's Facebook page, featuring stories from those impacted by HIV and AIDS.

“The goals (for the event) are to raise funds and awareness for the HIV community through AFC and 24 community partners,” Peller said. “In a normal year, our fundraising goal would be about $500,000. While we are still striving to achieve that goal, we recognize with the shift in event structure and impact of COVID-19 that the fundraising will be different this year.

“Funds raised are vital to AFC and its community partners to provide critical services like housing, testing, care, prevention and advocacy in support of the HIV community.”

This year's event will unite under the theme Forward Together, looking ahead and focusing on what can be done to create a better future for individuals living with HIV and AIDS, Peller said. “While the event has been slightly retooled to accommodate COVID-19 healthy and safety guidelines, with participants spread across multiple days and neighborhoods to avoid one large gathering, the funds raised by the event remain vital to help build the better future those living with HIV and AIDS deserve,” he said.

In addition to AFC, 24 community organizations serving Chicago's HIV and AIDS population will receive a portion of funds raised as part of the CommunityDirect program. Together, these organizations are working toward Getting to Zero Illinois. The ambitious state-wide initiative to end the HIV epidemic in Illinois by 2030 with the help of community-based organizations, health care providers, local government agencies and local members of Illinois' HIV community focuses on increasing the current rates of PrEP (a daily prevention pill that is up to 99 percent effective when taken consistently and correctly) and other HIV treatments to attain fewer than 100 new HIV cases per year. More than 60 percent of the estimated 42,500 Illinoisans currently living with HIV are Chicagoans.

Peller said there were no plans to cancel the annual event. “The AIDS Run & Walk is much more than a physical gathering, and the funds are vital to AFC and its community partners. So, we knew we needed to find a way to have some sort of event,” he said. “With the health and safety of the community as our top priority, the AIDS Run & Walk has been expanded and retooled with a variety of options for participation. For the first time, registrants can run or walk at their own pace, in their own place and track their participation via a virtual app. We hope participants will enjoy this new experience and that individuals throughout the community will continue to register and donate to provide life-saving support.”

Peller, 48, who will be part of his 15th AIDS Run & Walk, predicted 1,500 or more will participate.

“For me, the AIDS Run & Walk Chicago is about hope,” Peller said. “Even in the middle of a pandemic, we have to maintain hope that we will get through this and come out stronger. We have to hope – and not just hope, but act – to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, as we have laid out in the state's Getting to Zero Illinois strategy.”

Peller's favorite AIDS Run & Walk memory was, without question, the 2016 event, held amid a torrential downpour. “We still had a fantastic turnout and strong fundraising (that year); a little rain never stopped this bunch of AIDS advocates.”

For more information, to participate or make a donation, visit or call 312-334-0946. 

2020 CommunityDirect Partners

Agape Missions NFP

AMITA Health

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago

CCHIP (Cook County HIV Integrated Programs, Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center)

Center on Halsted

Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus

Chicago Dancers United

Chicago House and Social Service Agency

Chicago Recovery Alliance

Erie Family Health Centers

Haymarket Center

Howard Brown Health Center

Legal Council for Health Justice

Lurie SID

Michael Reese Care Program at Mercy

Mother and Child Alliance

The Night Ministry

Open Door Health Center of Illinois

Pride Action Tank

Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago

Season of Concern

Sinai Health System

Transforming Re-Entry Services (Men and Women in Prison Ministries)

University of Chicago