An AIDS Walk volunteer gives last-minute instructions to participants.

On May 5 thousands of individuals will come together in Charlotte to walk roughly two miles through Charlotte’s 4th Ward in honor of those who are impacted by HIV and AIDS. This year’s Walk will mark the 16th anniversary of the event and serves as a way to illustrate the support for those in the community living with HIV and AIDS. All of the money raised during the Walk will go to support Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) and their work here in the Charlotte area.

Founded in 1992 by Rev. Deborah Warren with the help of concerned volunteers, RAIN originally served as a means to change the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS in the early 1990s and to ensure that people dying from AIDS would not die alone. Since then the understanding of HIV and AIDS, as well as its treatment possibilities, have evolved and so has the organization. According to their website, RAIN’s mission is “to transform lives and promote respect and dignity for all people touched by HIV through compassionate care, education and leadership development.”

Since the founding of RAIN in 1992, the organization reports that they have been able to provide over 150,000 hours of service to over 1,100 individuals living with HIV and AIDS. RAIN also serves to educate the community about HIV and AIDS prevention through awareness programs and initiatives. Over 50,000 people have been educated through their programming. RAIN has received numerous awards through the years for their dedication and service to removing the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS within the community and providing direct client services to individuals living with HIV and AIDS.

During the 2012 Human Rights Campaign North Carolina Gala, Warren was honored as the HRC NC Legacy Award Recipient for her years of dedication to this cause.

The 2012 AIDS Walk Charlotte will be held at Gateway Atrium Village, 800 W. Trade St. Registration and check-in will begin at 8 a.m. and will be followed by a morning program and awards ceremony at 9:30 a.m. The Walk itself will begin at 10 a.m. and walkers will travel roughly two miles through Charlotte’s historic Fourth Ward. The walk is expected to take less than an hour with a closing ceremony to follow.

“AIDS Walk Charlotte is a true celebration of life — it’s our community’s celebration. We gather together to celebrate the life of those who have finished their journey and to celebrate the life of those who are still with us,” says Nathan Smith, director of development and marketing for RAIN. “I read somewhere that an AIDS Walk is a public prayer in action. I would agree, AIDS Walk Charlotte is truly just that.”

A participant in last year’s AIDS Walk checks over his pledge sheet prior to the start of the event.

There is still plenty of time to support RAIN and take part in this year’s Walk. Individuals can sign up through their website ( One can also choose to become a team captain and recruit friends, family and co-workers to join together and walk in support of this cause. Individuals, too, can join existing teams and walk together with other organizations to show support. The AIDS Walk website provides thorough information and an easy-to-use interface on how to promote participation to friends and family through other social media sites (such as Facebook). Utilizing their website and tools makes it easy for groups to organize and raise awareness around the Walk.

For those who can’t make the AIDS Walk Charlotte or don’t want to wake up early, join the effort as a Sleep Walker. There is no fee to register as a Sleep Walker, however participants are encouraged to raise a minimum of $100.

For the ambitious walkers who want to strive to make a large impact, register to become a Social Justice Climber. The group, made up of individuals committed to raising at least $1,250, is transforming the community through their hard work and dedication. Climbers are entitled to a few perks, too, including an official Social Justice Climber hat, early check-in and T-shirt pick before AIDS Walk Charlotte, admission for two to a post-AIDS Walk Charlotte celebration event, listing on the AIDS Walk Charlotte website and more!

For more information about RAIN, visit

For more information about AIDS Walk Charlotte 2012, visit : :

O'Neale Atkinson

O'Neale Atkinson is a former editor of QNotes, serving in the position from Jan. 23, 2012 to June 15, 2012. His first issue as editor was published on Feb. 4, 2012. His last issue was published June 23,...