Mason Community Comes Together for 2013 AIDS Walk DC

Posted: November 19, 2013 at 5:02 am, Last Updated: November 20, 2013 at 6:52 am

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By Bryan Dombrowski

students at DC AIDS walk

Students at the AIDS Walk DC. Photo by Wendy Wagner

Every October the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement (CLCE) coordinates George Mason University’s participation in AIDS Walk DC. For more than 20 years, members from the Mason community — including students, staff and alumni — have participated in the event. This year’s Mason participants raised $1,000 during the walk, which took place on Oct. 26.

Why do they walk? Because 1 in 20 residents of Washington, D.C., are HIV-positive, and more than 3 percent of the population has AIDS. The rate of residents with HIV and AIDS in D.C. is higher than half of the countries in Africa.

In past years Mason has been recognized as a leading university for bringing in participants; about 80 people walked with the Mason team this year. Mason’s tradition of high turnout is partly drawn from the awareness CLCE raises for the event, and partly from the assistance Mason Transportation Services provides by offering shuttle service from the Fairfax Campus into the city.

CLCE’s student coordinator this year was conservation studies major and CLCE Living and Learning Community (LLC) member Melissa Fuerst. A sophomore, she was excited to be getting word out about AIDS Walk DC and other CLCE events planned for the remainder of the semester. Fuerst’s involvement with CLCE’s Alternative Break programs and living within the CLCE LLC inspired her to be more involved with giving back to the local community.

“I had a lot of help from other offices, like WAVES. Other student organizations such as Chi Upsilon Sigma personally reached out to me. It felt good seeing different communities within Mason unite for the same cause,” Fuerst says.

Another student who participated in the walk was global affairs major Tabatha Donley. “Walking for AIDS/HIV with the backdrop of the White House and Capitol allowed all of us to truly reflect on this cause,” she says. “Seeing the number of people walking and caring gave me hope that one day HIV/AIDS will be past history.”

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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