Tampa Bay AIDS Walk & 5K Run is coming to town

By : Chelsea Santiago
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ST. PETERSBURG – It’s that time of the year again – waking up early in the morning for fun with family, close friends and a close community; and cheering for that jolly man in the red suit. A track suit, of course.

The Tampa Bay AIDS Walk & 5k Run is coming to town again Dec. 10.

The event begins and ends at Vinoy Park in Downtown St. Petersburg and check-in is at 8 a.m. for participants. Registration is free for the walk, but there are incentive prizes for those raising $35, $150, $250, $350, $500, $750, $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000. The registration for the 5k Run is $35 and includes a T-shirt, Race Bib, & Timing Chip.

Those who come out to join in the walking, running, donating and volunteering will help to provide much-needed resources to the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas (ASAP), an HIV/AIDS organization now supporting members across the entire bay area.

For 13 years, ASAP has been hosting the fundraiser to bring awareness to the fight against HIV and prevention of the spread of AIDS, and has had great success in past years. In February 2016, ASAP opened Home 3050, the most comprehensive HIV services medical home in Tampa Bay.

“We have a fantastic committee this year,” said Brooke Boccacino, the director of corporate philanthropy for Empath Health. “We have more sponsors than we’ve had in the past, so we’ve already surpassed our sponsorship goal.”

Because of the wonderful turnout of sponsors this year – 14 in total so far – all money raised by the individuals can go directly to the services ASAP provides, such as a variety of educational programs and services for men, women and children who are HIV-positive.

According to Boccacino, between 900 and 1000 walkers have signed up so far for this year’s walk with more expected to join as the event gets closer. Last year over 700 walkers participated.

Empath Health announced in a press release this year that ASAP will merge with Francis House, another nonprofit known for providing support programs and services to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS located in Tampa.

According to Boccacino, Francis House played a role last year as well as a sponsor for the walk.

The Francis House-ASAP merger brings together service providers on both sides of Tampa Bay that will create more opportunities and services, said president and CEO of Empath Heath, Rafael J. Sciullo, in the press release.

“Both organizations provide their own set of unique services that will make us stronger together,” Sciullo said.

For more information on AIDS Walk Tampa Bay, to register online or donate visit AIDSWalkTampaBay.org.

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