Toronto rallies to AIDS walk

The Scotiabank Walk for Life brought the issue of AIDS home as thousands of Torontonians marched down Church Street on Sunday, Sept. 14.

“We do it in hopes of making people more aware,” Christina Dizon said.

“When I talk about AIDS people immediately think about Africa, but they don’t realize how close to home it really is.”

Dizon led a team of family and friends in support of her uncle, Marcelo Briones, a Toronto fashion designer who passed away from AIDS two years ago. Since then, Briones’ supporters have been participating in the walk every year.

Many teams walked the streets wearing t-shirts that read ‘Team Jessica’ or held signs reading ‘In Memory of Michael’.

For many this event was about close friends or family members who had died of AIDS. For some it was just about what the event could do for those who were at home suffering.

“I am walking today for anybody who can’t,” Carrie Perruzza said.

Perruzza is an elementary school teacher in Toronto and walked with her daughter and brother.

Nicholas Flood walked along the street with a friend. “I am walking for my dad,” Flood said. “He was the most important person in my life and this event brings me closer to him.”

Flood’s father, Bill, passed away at the age of 52 from AIDS. Flood participates in the walk every year to remember him. Today is the fourth anniversary of his father’s death.

“The Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life is an important event for all Canadians,” said Rick Waugh, Scotiabank President and CEO. “We are proud to support an event that provides important funding to fight AIDS and raises awareness about prevention of HIV.”

The Walk for Life celebrated its 20th anniversary today and more than 500,000 Canadians have participated to date, from all over Canada.

According to a report from Soctiabank, Canadians have raised about $28 million in the past 20 years and hope to raise over $300,000 from Sept. 14’s Toronto walk.

Donations go to support programs and services for people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.