IRHS Clubs Support First Frost AIDS Walk Fundraiser

Dominique Torrez, Contributor

Watertown’s scenic Thompson Park filled with red on October 15 as volunteers lined up under the giant inflatable starting line; ACR Health hosted their 18th annual First Frost AIDS Walk this year. Walking or running, the event raises money for local people living with HIV and AIDS, LGBT+ youth, and aides the fight against substance abuses, like opioids. In fact, since it’s start, ACR Health has raised over $500,000 through the walk alone.

This year alone, volunteers raised $32,845. People can sign up online in teams or as “virtual runners,” or sign up the day of the race with a $25 fee. Indian River’s TATF (Teen Aids Task Force) has been an active force in the fundraising effort, often merging with other IR groups like Drama Club and SADD, they create a team to raise money for the event. Each member individually collects funds, but  TATF also had a fundraiser during this year’s Homecoming game: raffle tickets were sold to students to ride a Zorb ball down the field during halftime.

Teams can also chose to come up with slogans and costumes. As an ode to the recent Broadway hit musical “Hamilton,” IR’s theme was “Not Throwing Away Our Shot to End AIDS.” Members dressed in black trash bags tied with red ribbon.

This year was personally my first year participating in the walk and it was one of my favorite experiences of the school year so far. The walk leads through Thompson Park and actually trails right through the zoo. Unfortunately, not too many animals were interested in being out but the colors of fall were beginning to show and the weather was nice. I got to spend the day with my best friends walking towards a cure.

Although there is no real competition in volunteer work, ACR does like to recognize high achievement. Congratulations to the Indian River Warriors for Biggest Team, Most Creative, and Top Fundraising Team with over $3000 donated. Another congratulations to TATF president Hannah Bajakian (below, center) for Top Youth Fundraiser and TATF advisor Kristie Fuller for 2nd place Top Fundraising Individual, raising over $2100.

Hopeful students, caregivers, and professionals alike look towards an end to new AIDS cases by 2020. This reporter is personally so proud to be a part of TATF and the work accomplished towards ending AIDS not only in Upstate New York, but for everyone.