AIDS Foundation of Chicago's annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago has been reformatted and expanded so community members can participate in the fundraiser while still social-distancing and adhering to public-safety guidelines.
While an event at Soldier Field, the traditional starting- and stopping-point for AIDS Run & Walk Chicago, is still set for Oct. 3, it will this year be a smaller-scale culmination of a weeklong series of pop-up runs taking place throughout the Chicago area the week of Sept. 28-Oct. 3.
"We've been working on the events since the spring," said Edward Wagner, AFC's chief officer of external relations. "We officially launched in May. At that time we didn't know what the city and world would be like in October. … Ultimately, we landed this idea of having a run-walk throughout the city, in different neighborhoods."
Participants download an app allowing them to follow a predetermined route through one of those neighborhoods on a particular day from between 3-7 p.m. Some supporters will be along the route, but Wagner said that, out of respect for social-distancing protocols, participants should not expect crowds, and organizers are encouraging folks to bring their own water, though some might be available on the route.
"It's going to be fun and exciting, but we recognize that we can't have large groups of people together, so it will be kind of minimal," Wagner said. "It will be kind of minimal. You'll see a person here and there, then someone further down. Someone might have a box of items they're handing out. The goal is less about having a big event than about having these routes established. … [Participants] will have some sense of community even if it is not some 'big walk' with folks standing side-by-side."
Participants unable to participate on one of the pre-established courses can also use the app to do a route of their ownthe app will let participants know when you they hit the necessary benchmarks, Wagner noted. Additionally, folks can be "virtual walkers" to raise money for AFC without participating in one of the physical events. Wagner said that about 1,000 community members have signed up so far.
"The community has really come out for this is a big way," he added. "For me, that's very inspiring. When we went into this, we had no idea what the outcome would be. We thought folks would be there for it, but we also know these times are unprecedented. It is hard to say anything for sure, but it's going really well."
AIDS Run & Walk Chicago locations include: Douglass Park on Mon., Sept. 28; Uptown/Lakeview on Tues., Sept. 29; Dunbar Park on Wed., Sept. 30; Loop/Grant Park on Thurs., Oct. 1; Washington Park/Hyde Park on Fri., Oct. 2; and Loop/Grant Park on Sat., Oct. 3.
See action.aidschicago.org/event/aids-run-and-walk-chicago-2020/e269591 .