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AIDS walk aims at awareness

September 28, 2005

Sunday’s Columbia Gorge AIDS Walk 2005, a 5K walk along the historic Columbia River Highway toward the Mosier Tunnels, was the first of what organizer Karen Maes hopes will become an annual event to raise awareness — and money — for HIV/AIDS prevention and services in the community.

“I just wanted to give something back to the community that has taken such good care of me,” Maes said after the walk on Sunday. “I want to help supplement funding that’s been cut from the Ryan White fund.”

Participants included Rep. Greg Walden and his wife, Mylene, and County Commissioner Rodger Schock and his wife Judy, and Hood River Mayor Linda Rouches.

Three and a half months ago Maes formed the Columbia Gorge AIDS Project, a nonprofit organization to provide HIV/AIDS prevention, education, support, housing and advocacy programs in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Its mission, as stated on its Web site (www.columbiagorgeaidsproject.org) is to prevent HIV in youth and adults at highest risk, support men, women and children with HIV and their families, and advocate for an effective community response to the pandemic.

Maes would very much like to see more education on HIV/AIDS prevention in area schools. She was motivated to form CGAP after she moved to Hood River and found out that there was no AIDS education in the classrooms or community.

The next major fund-raiser is planned for World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. “Art for Life,” a silent auction and black-tie affair, will be an evening of fine food, art, an open bar, and dancing. Next year, watch for the AIDSWalk 2006, a Gorge Golf Tournament, Gorge bowling contest, and windsurfing and skiing contests.

Donations for the silent auction are needed; please call (541) 386-5404 or mail checks to CGAP, 2149 Cascade #100, Hood River, OR 97031.

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