Save Lives By Supporting Virtual AIDSWALK Tucson 2020

Large red ribbons witht he word "REemember" are displayed along a sidewalk for HIV awareness

By Rachel McMenamin, Grants Coordinator at the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation

As most things look different during this pandemic, so will the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation’s annual AIDSWALK Tucson. For the safety of walkers, volunteers, clients, staff and our community, this year’s AIDSWALK has gone virtual. SAAF will host a week long AIDSWALK celebration from October 12-18. All activities will be held virtually and walkers are encouraged to walk individually in any way and any place they choose to walk. 

While AIDSWALK may look different, what remains the same is our community’s commitment to coming together to bring an end to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. What remains the same is our community’s commitment to making sure our immunocompromised neighbors living with HIV/AIDS have access to care, housing, food and community.  

During this pandemic, people living with HIV are living in fear for their health, for their safety, for their access to basic needs such as food, shelter, hygiene and human connection. During this pandemic it is clearer now more than ever that we need the testing, the prevention efforts, and the community education to bring the HIV/AIDS epidemic to an end. 

Here’s how you can help support your immunocompromised neighbors and help to bring HIV to an end. Join in the fun of fundraising and walking for a cause that saves lives.  Join SAAF for AIDSWALK Celebration Week this October 12-18. Here’s how: 

  1. Register online at Once you register, you will receive emails and updates providing you with more information about AIDSWALK, tips and tricks for fundraising and ideas for your walk.  
  2. Set a fundraising Goal: Setting a goal for your fundraising efforts will give you something to work towards and celebrate when you surpass it. 
  3. Invite Friends and Family to join you: Make a walking team and invite friends and family to join. 
  4. Fundraise to meet your goal: Share why you walk on your social media channels. 
  5. Attend SAAF’s drive through registration event: On October 12 and 13 drive to SAAF’s main office at 375 S. Euclid Ave. Signs will direct cars to the back of the building where you may pick up incentives and t-shirts and interact safely with vendors. Drop off any extra donations from your fundraising efforts.  
  6. Tune into SAAF’s Social Media throughout the week of October 12-18 for access to virtual programming: Raise awareness and learn more about HIV/AIDS and prevention efforts in a fun and interactive way. We will also be live streaming the traditional AIDS Memorial Quilts Ceremony to remember and honor those we have lost to AIDS.
  7. AIDSWALK Your Wheels: Decorate your cars/bikes/skates to show your support for AIDSWALK for the week of October 12-18. 
  8. Walk. Run. Have Fun:  Once you register, you can walk whenever you want. Be creative and walk as far as you want and where you want. Walk in a park, go for a run around the block, walk on a treadmill, walk in your house. The possibilities are endless! 
  9. Take Selfies and share your walk on social media: Please take selfies of you walking and supporting this year’s AIDSWALK. You are invited to share your selfies in an email with SAAF’s Events Manager Jess Patrick at  and please share your photos on social media using the hashtag #AIDSWALKTucson2020.
  10. 10.Make a gift at SAAF is uniquely positioned to address the needs of HIV-positive individuals whose safety, health, and very lives are threatened by this pandemic. Your gift to SAAF can save lives.

Prizes will be given to walkers who raise the most money as individuals or teams. For any questions about this year’s AIDSWALK, please contact SAAF’s Events Manager, Jess Patrick at SAAF is especially grateful to the generous sponsors of this year’s walk: TEP, Walgreens and GEICO.

30th AIDSWALK Touches the Hearts of Hundreds

On the morning of Sunday, October 14th, 2018 hundreds of people gathered early in Downtown Tucson to show their support for the 30th Annual AIDSWALK Tucson.

Everyone has a different reason for walking, some very personal while others walk due to a strong sense of community.  No matter the reason, the presence of approximately 500 participants and an additional 350 volunteers showed resounding support for the HIV/AIDS prevention and care services provided by the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF).
The event began early with a fun run, where joggers traversed puddles under blue skies as they ran through the streets of downtown, being cheered on every time they circled through the main event stage.  Shortly after, Wendell Hicks, SAAF’s Executive Director, took to the stage to remind everyone why they came out to support AIDSWALK: “We need you to continue this walk, to build on the strides we’ve made in fighting HIV/AIDS and to take the steps to move us closer to reducing the spread of new infections in our community.”

Over thirty years later, the Tucson community still stands up when it comes to helping the most vulnerable among us.

Wendell went on to ask the crowd full of hundreds of people to raise their hand if it was their first AIDSWALK.  Many hands rose.  For some it was their first AIDSWALK, for others, their tenth, twentieth, and even thirtieth.
As part of the 30th AIDSWALK Tucson, several individuals and organizations were honored for their continuing support.  Danielle Bautista accepted an award for Desert Diamond Casinos and Entertainment for their 23 years of commitment and partnership as the AIDSWALK Title Sponsor since 1995.  Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea was also honored as a longtime community partner for AIDSWALK for their 30 years of support.  In addition, Curt Beal and Anne Maley were honored with paper prayers for their longtime support and received the awards of Longtime AIDSWALK Volunteer and Longtime AIDSWALK Walker respectively.
Just prior to bringing Cecilia Rose, Stefi, and BreakOut Studios onstage to help participants warm up with a dance before walking, Wendell stated, “We have traveled a long way and yet we still have so far to go. This walk represents the journey we’ve taken, the strides we’ve made, and the steps we still need to take.”
It’s with this thought that the starting ribbon was cut and around 500 individuals stepped forward in a wave of purple showing all of Tucson and all of Arizona that they care.  They care about those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.  They remember those who have been lost over the years.  They want to see greater HIV prevention and care in the community.  They know that it takes a community and that the work SAAF does everyday matters.

Thanks to the hundreds of participants, volunteers, and sponsors, AIDSWALK Tucson generated around $130,000 dollars to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS. Thank you for being a part of this transformational journey!