"The AIDS Walk is a cherished part of my life - I've been walking since 1987 - so many dear friends I've lost to the virus are with me as I walk."
On June 1st, 1986, 4,000 people came together at an event called “From All Walks of Life”, a fundraising walk to support the services of AIDS Action Committee. Twenty-five years ago, the AIDS epidemic was in its infancy, and a diagnosis of HIV was a death sentence. Many of us lost loved ones, friends, and co-workers to an illness we knew very little about. The thousands of people who came out to the Walk had all had their lives affected in some way by AIDS, and they walked to show their support for the work of AIDS Action. The event raised $325,000, and was AIDS Action’s largest and most ambitious fundraising event to date.
Today, this event is known as the AIDS Walk & 5K Run. Twenty-seven years later, more than 300,000 people have participated in the AIDS Walk & 5K Run and raised over $36 million total for the programs and services of AIDS Action. While the Walk has grown and changed to reflect the mood of the time, we continue to assemble on the first Sunday in June united by our common cause: to remember those we have lost to HIV/AIDS, support those who are living with this disease, and stop the epidemic.
Here are a few milestones:
1986 First AIDS Walk Boston, then named “From All Walks of Life”, is held on Boston Common. The song “That’s What Friends are For,” popularized by Dionne Warwick, becomes the Walk’s signature anthem, and has been sung at every Walk since the beginning.
1988 The Walk grosses over $1 million: 12,000 walkers participated and raised $1.3 million.
1988 “That’s What Friends are For” is simulcast live on over 15 radio stations across Massachusetts in honor of the Walk.
1993 The Walk has its biggest year ever, as 35,000 dedicated participants raised more than $3 million for AIDS Action.
1994 “From All Walks of Life” is officially renamed “AIDS Walk Boston”.
1997 The location of AIDS Walk Boston is moved from the Common to the Hatch Memorial Shell on the Esplanade.
1997 Information about the Walk is posted online for the first time.
2001 A 5K Run is added to the Walk, allowing those who prefer to run an opportunity to show their support.
2001 The Walk website, www.aidswalkboston.org is launched and online donations are accepted.
2005 On the 20th Anniversary of the Walk, the “From All Walks of Life” brand and four faces logo are reintroduced.
2005 The Health and Wellness Fair, soon to be renamed the Wellness Festival, makes its debut to promote healthy living for all participants.
2009 A record number of gifts are received in support of the Walk.
2010 AIDS Walk Boston marks its 25th anniversary by introducing the theme "Love Hope Honor Action."
2012 The 5K Run sees a record number of participants, with more than 800 individuals participating.