By Linda Unger*
May 24, 2013—Among the soggy but high-spirited participants in last Sunday’s AIDS Walk New York, a contingent of Global Ministries staff, their family and friends slogged more than six rainy miles through Central Park and city streets to raise awareness and funds for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment.
Rain fell steadily all day, but that did not stop the 30,000 people who made the pilgrimage to benefit a host of organizations involved in work to promote AIDS awareness and care. The walk has been held every year since 1986.
United Methodist Global AIDS Fund (UMGAF) was represented by the Global Ministries contingent, an energetic group of about 20 walkers representing a cross-section of the mission organization. They raised a total of more than $2,100 for UMGAF.
UMGAF supports education, prevention, and care programs for people living with HIV and AIDS around the world. It currently supports more than 200 HIV and AIDS ministries in 37 countries, including the United States.
Nyamah Dunbar, senior program manager of the Malaria Initiative of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), issued a general invitation to staff and gathered the Global Ministries group together.
“The cause is something that is very much aligned with our values, so it was a great opportunity to reach outside our normal network of The United Methodist Church and see that great number of people out there who are invested in a similar issue,” she said. (Read Dunbar’s blog here.)
And, she added, it would be a great experience for staff members to see and share “something intangible” with each other outside the work environment. That experience resonated with the group.
“It was a pleasure to share with co-workers in a walk for a good cause,” said administrative secretary Christine Biaggi.
“I kept thinking about how God was feeling—seeing so many people celebrating life,” she said of the thousands of walkers and of those who stood dripping at almost every corner cheering them on.
For Rhina Herrera, of the Global Ministries Internal Audit office, “The day could not have been better. In spite of the rain, we were truly blessed to have such a wonderful turnout.” She said the day meant a lot to her and that participating in walks like this one is a way of “giving back and supporting a cause.”
At the end of the day, Dunbar said, “I felt exhausted, but in an interesting way—recharged with a sense of achievement.”
The walk—and the rain—may be over, but the need persists. Please support the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, Advance #982345.
*Linda Unger is senior writer for the General Board of Global Ministries.