It’s not a tragedy, it’s an emergency. That’s how Nelsonite Brad Dearing presented living with HIV after he was diagnosed last year.
Standing before a group ready to walk in support of those living with HIV/ AIDS, Dearing shared two spoken word poems that illuminated the change in mindset of coping, rather than believing an HIV diagnosis is a death sentence. Rather than mourn, judge and condemn, he suggested showing empathy and support through asking a simple question: what can I do to help?
The 21st annual walk, held at Lakeside Park for a change rather than Baker St. is meant to raise awareness and funds to support people in the West Kootenay with HIV/AIDS to pay for their treatment and medical expenses.
They raised just over $12,000 this year with much thanks to the Kootenay Qigong Wellness Society for a donation of $10,000.
There are roughly 73, 000 people living with HIV in Canada. The Kootenay region have roughly five to 10 per cent of the BC total which in 2012 was 11,700 people living with HIV in the province. Approximately one quarter of Canadians with HIV don’t know they have the disease.
The United Church participated as did Nelson Grans to Grans to show their support. The grandmothers also raise funds for grandmothers in Africa who have become the adoptive parents of their grandchildren due to parents dying from AIDS.
Entertainment and a barbecue were held afterwards at the Rotary shelter.