AIDS Walk 2016

I had fun on June 5, 2016, the day I participated in the AIDS Walk 2016. We started at the Boston Esplanade and went in one huge misshaped circle back to the Esplanade.

I saw friends from both the Boston Living Center and the AIDS Action Committee. I didn’t have anybody from Spare Change News walk with me but that’s okay.

I walked with the friends I made at the Boston Living Center. Everybody wore red t-shirts that read, “The Victory Program” on one side and “Honor, Hope and Action” on the other side. We had so much fun talking with people in the rain, listening to the speakers from the AIDS Action Committee and the Boston Living Center.

One lively young woman had a lot of us doing jumping jacks and pilates in order to get us geared up for the walk and the 5k run. We listened to music at the event while enjoying each other’s friendship. We reminisced about people who were no longer able to participate because of health problems or because they’d entered into God’s World.

Walgreens, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Brown Middle School, Cabot Farms, the American Heart Association, Whole Foods and several other groups I’ve never been in contact with before all showed up to provide snacks and information on HIV/AIDS, CPR, heart health, nutritious eating and recipes for people who are vegetarians.

It was nice seeing a couple of my cousins who I haven’t seen in a long while. They participated by doing the walk with some of their friends.

The staff at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Infectious Disease Department had new T-shirts pumping themselves up for the walk. The only problem for me was I got lost twice along the route.

I was walking slower than the rest of the walkers for the Boston Living Center, so I lost track of how far ahead of me they were. Taking a bathroom break in Kenmore Square didn’t help me either. That’s how I got lost twice. Nevertheless, I made it.

I walked from the Esplanade up Commonwealth Avenue, went down Commonwealth Avenue to the Beacon Street turn in Kenmore Square and walked up Beacon all the way to Coolidge Corner in Brookline. Someone told me to take the bus, but I said “no thanks”—it would be cheating—and I kept walking.

I walked along Harvard Street from Coolidge Corner to Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton and then I walked all the way back down to Boston University near Kenmore.

I walked across a footbridge that connects to Storrow Drive and then I walked all the way along Storrow Drive back to the Esplanade. When I got to the Esplanade, everybody was gone except for the guys who were cleaning up and packing everything up.

I started my journey at 11 a.m. and ended it at 3 p.m. It was fun and totally worth the pain I endured by doing so much walking. Seeing that nobody was around, I decided to go get checked out at the emergency room at Massachusetts General Hospital. I was in a lot of pain—so much that I could barely walk anymore or even stand. They told me that I just overdid it a bit. They gave me some Tylenol and an Oxycodone and sent me home.

Unfortunately for me, I was too late to get a bed in any of the shelters so I just stayed out at Logan Airport for the night. It was the best snooze of my life while I was out there (Oxycodone always makes me sleepy). By Monday, you wouldn’t have known I’d had such an interesting day on Sunday. I was still feeling like I did before I did the walk.

Happy, healthy, singing and dancing all across the city. I had one young man (looked like he was about 6–7 years old) say to his parents that he wished he could have the kind of fun I was having.

He enjoyed watching me sing and dance by myself to the music on my cell phone. He and his parents were on their way to visit with his siblings and grandparents.

Other than getting lost twice and being in pain, I had fun before, during and after the AIDS Walk 2016. I hope you will all join with me in having some fun when you see me at the Prudential T station.

Big thanks to the readers who bought the Spare Change News issue featuring my appeal for  donations. The other vendors and I sold over 6,000 papers before the event. I’m hoping that at least half of you gave an online donation to the AIDS Action Committee for the AIDS Walk 2016 at aac.org.

Beatrice Bell is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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