AIDS Walk & 5K Run Blog


6/3 >> Questions for John
5/24 >> Bette's Story

5/19 >> John's Story
5/17 >> Lindsay's Story
4/14 >> Scott's Story

Contests & Prizes

5/31 >> iPod Touch Winner
5/23 >> iPod Touch 32GB

5/20 >> Runners: Cinch Bag & iPod Nano
5/19 >> Kindle Update
5/18 >> Coolidge Corner Theatre
5/17 >> Digital Camera Winner

Other Updates

5/25 >> Team MAC $30 on $30+
5/11 >> Take the 5K Challenge

Thursday, June 2 | 10:30pm

John W. Duncan, Co-Captain of Old South Church, talks the Walk
Questions provied by AIDS Walk & 5K Run Staff


How did you first become involved with the Walk and why? What's your personal connection to the fight against HIV/AIDS? 

When new members join Old South Church, we take a Connections Class. The class teaches you about the history of Old South and the history of the United Church of Christ (which is our denomination). Each class participates in a Community Service Project to foster friendship and fellowship as you join the Church together. In 2009, when I joined Old South Church, Jim McDonnel, our outgoing AIDS Walk Captain, came to my Connections Class to discuss the Walk. He let us know about the team, its history, and encouraged us to think of joining.

I had been pretty involved when I lived in Providence with AIDS Care Ocean State and really wanted to be able to start to get involved with the local AIDS Action group. I have seen so many of my friends in the past 5 years receive that lab result that changed their lives forever.

I walk in support of them. I walk to let them know that they are not alone.  I walk for the future generations so that they will not have to worry about this epidemic.  I walk because I believe everyone deserves a chance at LIFE! 

You're taking on the role of captain. What's the most rewarding part about leading the Old South team? 

The most rewarding part about leading the Old South team is the amazing support I have from the Old South Congregation.  At Old South, we embody the ideals of mercy, beauty and justice. I believe the Boston AIDS Walk allows us a unique opportunity to live out these ideals in our local community. It is also an opportunity to bear witness as a faith community in support of our brothers and sisters living with HIV/AIDS. In a world wrought with division and intolerance, the Boston AIDS Walk allows us the opportunity to provide a new perspective on the lives of people of faith to the greater community. Similarly, it allows us to connect members of our own communities to what it means to live with HIV/AIDS.

What have you learned from working with Jim? Is there anything he's shared with you that really motivated you to take on this role, or changed your perspective in a big way? 

The most important thing that I have learned from working with Jim is that you have to continue to have the face to face connection. In the era of social media, we forget that many people still want to be asked in person to donate money to our causes. An email is a great way to get the word out but you have to follow up with your donors in person.

Jim also says, "Be persistent." You have to make sure that you are visual wherever you might be. Whether it is going and talking to groups about walking and donating or if it is standing at coffee hour letting people see you. You have to be outspoken and kind of an extrovert if you want to raise the big money like Jim.

I think the biggest reason why I wanted to take on the role as Old South Captain is because I do not every want to see the way HIV/AIDS was in the beginning happen again in my lifetime. Jim has talked to me about how in the beginning, the people that you might have walked with in support one year, would be the people you were walking in memory of the next year. I think in my generation we forget how detrimental this epidemic was in the beginning because of all the progress that has taken place in 30 years. I definitely think that we have a very long way to go in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but I am optimistic that my generation (and future generations) will be walking to raise money to educate and find a cure to eliminate this epidemic. I truly believe that this epidemic ends with us!

There's been a lot of promising medical breakthroughs in the last few years, but if science doesn't find a vaccine or a cure in the next 30 years and AIDS is still with us, what do you hope will have changed about the epidemic from where it stands today? 

I hope that over the next 30 years, what we will have changed is the support and energy in fundraising. If we can achieve greater participation in fundraising then this will in effect support our efforts in education, research, and awareness so that we will be able to eliminate this epidemic with my generation!

To people who are walking, running or captaining a team for the first time, what would you say to motivate them to really dig in these last few days -- to go out and fundraise and spread the word? 

Don't Stop! No matter how much money someone can give you, every little bit helps. When you feel like you want to quit think about why you are doing what you are doing. Think about the person that you might be walking in memory of or in honor of. Think about how you and your efforts can help eliminate this epidemic. Think about those people who do not have a voice and need you to be their voice. And when you are completely tired and want to quit, think about the scared teenager who will be able to get the counseling he needs, or the rapid HIV test in 24 hours that you helped to pay for.  

Tuesday, May 31 | 7:25pm

Congratulations to our iPod Touch winner!

From May 23 to May 29, we ran a promotion for donors and fundraisers where every donation of $30 or more acted as an entry into a raffle for a 32GB iPod Touch. We're excited to announce that the winner was Alice Marwick, who has done some awesome fundraising so far. A generous $100 donation from one of her donors was her lucky ticket to a brand new iPod! Congrats, Alice!

Wednesday, May 25 | 10:16am

Team MAC will add $30 to the next 200 donations of $30+ to their team!

Team MAC FundraiserTo boost their 2011 fundraising, Team MAC will add $30 to next 200 donations of $30 or more their team receives. Giving $30 is like giving $60; giving $60, $90! You can take part in this exciting challenge by clicking the red and white DONATE NOW button on Team MAC's fundraising page:! We'll let you know when the first 200 donations have come through.

Pictured: Kris Knievel, Rebecca Haag, Team MAC's captain Dana Zimei, and Verna Turbulence, at a recent Team MAC fundraiser at 28 Degrees in Boston!

Tuesday, May 24 | 10:37am

For 20 years, Bette's walked to honor the son she lost to AIDS
By Jacoba van Heugten, AIDS Walk & 5K Run staff

Bette Byrnes 2010

Working with Extra Mile Club members and Gold Teams for three years now, I’ve been humbled by the diversity of experience that brings people to the AIDS Walk & 5K Run. In a day I will speak to people who’ve lost loved ones, and longtime survivors, and young people who’ve never known a world without AIDS. I recently had an experience that brought the early days of the epidemic together with the present, and I wanted to share that experience with you.

I was meeting with one of my student teams last week, and a young person asked me, “Who is John’s Team?” John’s Team has been our top fundraiser for several years, and these active young people wanted to know how come John’s Team always beat them in fundraising! I cherished this opportunity to talk to the students about Bette Byrnes, the team’s dedicated captain for 20 years.

Bette started walking with her son, John, in 1991, the year he became ill. She lost John to AIDS in 1994, just two years before treatment breakthroughs prolonged the lives of tens of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS. John was 34 years old when he passed, an artist by trade.

“I don’t feel bitter. It was John’s time. You can’t bring that back, so I will continue in a fight to save someone else. I can’t save him. I cannot do anything more for him, but I can transfer a little of that to someone else.”

Before she moved to Florida, Bette volunteered at AIDS Action, working with our HIV+ clients and helping organize the Walk. Asked by a reporter in 1996 about the personal tragedy that turned her into an AIDS advocate, Bette said, “I don’t feel bitter. It was John’s time. You can’t bring that back, so I will continue in a fight to save someone else. I can’t save him. I cannot do anything more for him, but I can transfer a little of that to someone else.”

When I told Bette about the student’s interest in John’s Team, which now raises over $50,000 each year, she was amused by the young person’s competitive spirit. You see, Bette believes wholeheartedly in AIDS Action’s work to give people the tools to prevent new HIV infections, especially young people. She took this opportunity to remind me that our commitment to empowering young people who participate in the AIDS Walk & 5K Run to go out and educate their peers about HIV/AIDS is exactly why she’s still such a strong supporter of AIDS Action today.

She can’t bring back her son, but she can help save someone else’s.

Bette is not alone; she shares this commitment with you. That's why it's an honor and a privilege to work with you, and why I know you'll do everything in your power to hit and exceed your personal fundraising goals. We know how to prevent HIV. We have the tools. We just need to continue having the resources to reach more people and further reduce the number of new infections. With your help, we can and we will.

Monday, May 23 | 10:03am

Weekly Fundraising Contest: iPod Touch 32GB!


Every week between now and the Walk & Run there will be a prize drawing for our most active fundraisers! This week -- May 23-May 29 -- the prize is an iPod Touch 32GB.

Here's how the contest works:

You get entered for every donation of $30 or more you receive. The person who donates to you also gets entered. If you donate $30 or more to  yourself, you get entered TWICE.

What are you waiting for? Log in to the Fundraising Center and get 'raising now :)

Congratulations are due to Joanne Scouler of Team IBM who won last week's prize, an Amazon Kindle, after being entered three times thanks to her generous donors!

Friday, May 20 | 2:43pm

Heads up, Runners! We've got a couple of special prizes just for you

Just for Runners

AWB5k 2011 Cinch Bag

5K Run Cinch Bag


iPod Nano® 8GB

As we enter the two most important weeks of Walk & Run fundraising, we wanted to let you know about some exciting additions to the 5K Run this year:

The first 600 runners signed up at get a special 5K Run cinch bag! As of this blog post, there's just a few slots left for this special prize, so if you aren't signed up, do it now. And if you are signed up, tell your friends!

Also, every runner who raises at least $100 by Friday, June 3rd will be entered to win an Apple iPod nano® 8GB! These little music players are great for when you're on the go.

If you haven't started fundraising yet, don't sweat it. All you have to do is ask your family and friends to support you and the cause you've signed up to help out. One participant raised over $150 on the very first email he sent out to his family and friends. If every runner meets their fundraising goal, you'd raise as a group over $115,000 to support people at risk for and affected by HIV/AIDS! That would be an incredible accomplishment. Let us help you reach your goal!

Contact the 5K Run Coordinator, Kathy Power, at or 617.450.1546 to talk about fundraising and ask any questions.


Thursday, May 19 | 2:03pm

John's walking to keep young people from getting HIV


At just 26-years-old, John Hanawalt of Somerville is four years younger than the AIDS epidemic, which will turn 30 on June 5, 2011 (the first published mention of the disease was made by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in a report sent out to news media, doctors, and epidemiologists on June 5, 1981). But the graphic designer for Fenway Community Health doesn’t need tutorials on the epidemic, despite having been in elementary school during its most horrific period.

“It feels like a personal issue even though I’m HIV negative,” Hanawalt says. “I think every gay man knows what it’s like to have that one test that they’re unsure of, and to know that the results could change their life. So for me there’s a personal stake in fighting HIV and AIDS even though I’m fortunate enough to have avoided it.”

"I think every gay man knows what it’s like to have that one test that they’re unsure of, and to know that the results could change their life. So for me there’s a personal stake in fighting HIV and AIDS even though I’m fortunate enough to have avoided it."

Hanawalt, who will be “rocking a Freddie Mercury moustache” for the Walk, has joined with friends to walk as Team Freddie Mercury. The name came from his and his teammates’ desire to show “how far AIDS can reach.” But the group of five friends also chose to name their team after a rock star “because everyone on the team’s a rock star and we wanted the fundraising to seem fun and glamorous and high energy like Freddie Mercury.”

For Hanawalt and his friends who are, he says, “part of the first generation living with AIDS as a reality,” participating in the Walk isn’t just about raising money for AIDS Action Committee, which provides services for one-in-six people in Massachusetts living with a diagnosis of HIV. Hanawalt says it’s also about sharing news and information about HIV and AIDS “that gets people engaged” in the cause and also gets them thinking more deliberately about HIV. So he posts items to his Facebook and Twitter accounts, sends emails to his circle of friends and family, and writes about it on his blog, John Hanawalt Design, where he recently posted that he’s participating in the AIDS Walk & 5K Run because he’s “frustrated to see young people contracting HIV because they can’t get the education or condoms that would prevent it.”

Hanawalt also maintains Team Freddie Mercury’s “We Will Walk You” fundraising page, which has an introduction that neatly captures the spirit of participation for many walkers: “HIV/AIDS has taken some of the best people from us: pace setters, trend makers, artists, and weirdos. And it's not going to get any better unless we all learn to see HIV as a common enemy and those affected by it as our comrades in the fight against the disease. HIV still disproportionately affects gay men, young women, and ethnic minorities. If we don't do something, our shared culture of diversity is going to be the worse for it.”

Visit John's Personal Fundraising Page.
Visit Team Freddie Mercury's Team Page.

Thursday, May 19 | 11:21am

Weekly Fundraising Contest: Amazon Kindle!

Amazon Kindle

Every week between now and the Walk & Run there will be a prize drawing for our most active fundraisers! This week -- May 16-May 22 -- the prize is an Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi with Leather Case.

Here's how the contest works:

You get entered for every donation of $30 or more you receive. The person who donates to you also gets entered. If you donate $30 or more to  yourself, you get entered TWICE.

What are you waiting for? Log in to the Fundraising Center and get 'raising now :)

Wednesday, May 18 | 8:20pm

Contest! Next 30 Donors from Facebook & Twitter get entered to win a pair of tickets to the Coolidge Corner Theatre

Coolidge Corner Theatre

UPDATE: As of 1:00pm on Thursday, May 19th, we have a winner! Congratulations, Claire. You'll be contacted soon.

Starting at 8pm on Wednesday, May 18, the next 30 donors who give to the AIDS Walk & 5K Run by responding to our contest announcement on Facebook and Twitter get entered to win a pair of tickets to the Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA.

The pair of tickets is worth $18. And we're just 18 days away from the AIDS Walk & 5K Run!

To qualify, you first have to donate; then go mention us on Twitter (@aidswalkboston), or comment on our Facebook post. The mentioning or commenting is very important so we know you interacted with us on one of our favorite social media sites!

We know you contribute because you care about supporting people affected by HIV/AIDS, but it doesn't hurt to get a little reward for your efforts, especially when the reward has been so generously donated by one of our community partners -- Coolidge Corner Theatre!


Tuesday, May 17 | 12:08pm

Meet Lindsay, an inspiring young woman fighting AIDS

Lindsay Frey

Lindsay Frey has a word of warning for her friends: “Be prepared. You’re going to be ambushed.”

Every day, Frey updates her Facebook page with a reminder to friends that she’s raising money for the AIDS Walk & 5K Run. She sends out emails and texts, and she’s throwing a party with a $10 cover.

“Before I do all this, I let people know,” says Frey, who lives in the North End. “I say, ‘I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m begging for money. I’m sorry if this is annoying. But this is how it is.’”

Five years ago, Frey lost her aunt and uncle to the disease, which 18,000 people die from annually in the United States. At the time, her cousin was just 12 years-old.

“I come from a very old world Italian family, so you know, it rocked my family. It was just really, really sad,” Frey says.

"You can't be afraid to ask people for a donation because it goes to something that is so much bigger than us."

When Frey sends out her appeals to friends and talks about her involvement with the AIDS Walk & 5K Run, she talks about her family’s loss. “I think that the impact it’s had on me will impact my friends and the people who care about me,” she says. “Other people who’ve been impacted can also relate. Personal experience is what it’s all about.”

Frey has set an ambitious fundraising goal for herself: $3,000. But she’s confident she’ll reach it. “I’m up to $915 right now and I’m waiting on some large donations that I know are coming in.”

One other fundraising tactic that Frey says can draw in up to $1,000 itself is to let friends and family know that if they donate to the AIDS Walk & 5K Run, they don’t have to get her birthday or Christmas presents.

“I tell them, please give me a card,” she says. “I don’t want to walk away completely empty-handed. But I’d rather help someone out than get a bottle of perfume.”

Frey will walk with friends of her who together make up Team Freddie Mercury. Last year, the team raised $4,000 for AIDS Action Committee, which provides services to one in six people in Massachusetts living with a diagnosis of HIV.

“You can’t be afraid to ask people for a donation because it goes to something that is so much bigger than us,” Frey says. “On my worst day, I know I don’t have HIV or AIDS, you know what I mean? Some of my friends have HIV and they’re the strongest people I know.”

Visit Lindsay's Personal Fundraising Page.
Visit Team Freddie Mercury's Team Page.

Monday, May 16 | 10:11am

Our First Raffle Winner: Olympus Digital Camera


Congratulations are due to the winner of our first donation raffle, Jill, whose donation to Gold Team member Carl Randolph of Team MAC made her a winner!

Any donation of $30 or more during the week of May 9th acted as one entry for the donor and one entry for the person receiving the donation. We'll have prizes for every week leading up to the Walk, so the more donations you give and get, the better your chances of winning!

Wednesday, May 11 | 11:11am

Take the 5K Challenge: Amp up your exercise while funding the fight against AIDS

Named for AIDS Action Committee's Founding Director, the Larry Kessler 5K Run has become an integral part of the AIDS Walk over the last several years. Over 500 runners signed up in 2010, and we expect even greater participation this year. Last year's runners raised over $65,000. To put it into perspective, that's about 2,000 rapid HIV tests!

People walk and run for many different reasons, but we've seen an uptick in the number of people running to improve their own health, while reflecting on the challenges faced by people living with HIV/AIDS. Take James, for example, who ran in the 5K for the first time last year:

"When I first started training for this race in February, I could not run 1/4 mile without stopping. I weighed 215 pounds, and I felt like diabetes was around the corner for me. Today, I am 15 pounds lighter and I feel 15 years younger. Through all of the shin splints and other aches and pains, I kept thinking about the people we were running for, and what they must go through on a daily basis, and about people who lost their loved ones to this terribile disease. I just couldn't quit, not for something so trivial as a few aches and pains. Now that the race is over, it's so clear to me -- by trying to help them, I helped myself far more."

In his first year running, James raised $1,050 for AIDS Action, beating his goal by $50! You can do this, too. James was a very active user of the email tool in his participant center. If you ask, they will donate. We've got just six weeks to go. Follow in James' footsteps. Improve your health and the lives of others. Go, runners, go!

Thursday, April 14 | 3:11pm

William Raveis Real Estate is making a difference!

Scott BeaneScott Beane is the driving force behind the William Raveis Real Estate Walk Team. The team has five members - though Scott is trying to recruit five more - and has already raised $755.

Beane, who regularly participated in the AIDS Walk during the 1990s, but stopped walking when he moved out of Boston, says he has plenty of motivation to raise money for AIDS Action Committee: a close colleague died of AIDS in the late 1980s and a good friend has been HIV positive for 15 years.

"It affects you," says Beane, who moved back to Boston in February. "I live in the South End and it's kind of hard not to know someone who has been impacted by AIDS."

The Area Sales Manager for William Raveis Real Estate's Boston offices says that businesses that want to raise their profile - and reputation - in their community should support local leaders like AIDS Action Committee. "You have to be a responsible citizen of the community and you've got to lead by example," he says of volunteering for local causes. "AIDS Action has been so successful in fighting AIDS and preventing the spread of  HIV. It's important to support these local organizations.'

Beane will be walking - "I hope the weather's good!" he says - with  15,000 others on June 5. Come out and join him! Be part of the winning team!