DK Haas has lived with HIV since 1988 and worked in the HIV/AIDS community for decades. But leading a UC San Francisco contingent at the annual AIDS Walk – her first time doing so – was a unique experience.
As she walked on July 19 with her grandchild, her colleagues from the UCSF Alliance Health Project (AHP) and their extended families, she was swept away by the spectacle of nearly 20,000 walkers converged in Golden Gate Park in rainbow-hued regalia. One of the most prominent groups in the AIDS Walk is always UCSF, and this year saw its participation peak with nearly 400 registered walkers and more than $100,000 in funds raised – the most in recent history.
D.K. Haas (center) participated in her first AIDS Walk with Dee Hamption (left) and her granddaughter Alyssa Hampton-Merino. Photo by Noah Berger
For Haas, the emotion in the air was palpable.
“It’s a celebration, but also a reminder of all the people living with HIV and all those we have lost,” says Haas. “I have worked in the field a long time and have lost countless people, so it was a solemn event in some ways.”
Haas’s association with AHP began with her own diagnosis: She tested positive at their clinic. She has worked with them since, currently serving as their community liaison for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) relations.
“I live with HIV and described that as I was fundraising through my community,” she says. “Part of why I was able to raise so much money for AHP is my personal story of survival.”
As of July 27, Haas has secured $6,838 in donations, which put her at No. 12 overall among all AIDS Walk individual participants this year and No. 2 at UCSF, behind Robert Mansfield of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute / Global Health Sciences team. The Alliance Health Project team has raised $27,005, making it UCSF’s top team this year.
Top 5 UCSF Teams
1. UCSF Alliance Health Project (AHP): $27,005
2. UCSF AIDS Research Institute/Global Health Sciences: $24,275
3. UCSF Campus Life Services: $9,869
4. UCSF HIV/AIDS Division at San Francisco General Hospital: $7,121
5. UCSF Mission Bay Hospitals: $5,575
Top 5 UCSF Individuals
1. Robert Mansfield (UCSF AIDS Research Institute/Global Health Sciences): $8,400
2. D.K. Haas (UCSF Alliance Health Project): $6,838
3. Terri Sonoda (UCSF AIDS Research Institute/Global Health Sciences): $4,125
4. Dee Hampton (UCSF Alliance Health Project): $3,021
5. Lillian Reidy (UCSF Alliance Health Project): $2,851
*Totals as of July 27 for teams, July 29 for individuals
Overall, UCSF teams raised more than $100,000, holding position as one of the city’s top fundraisers. The final tallies have not yet been reported, since fundraising continues through Aug. 14.
“It is heartening that so many members of the UCSF community regularly turn out to raise funds for programs and services to benefit those living with HIV/AIDS,” says Lisa Cisneros, co-chair of the UCSF AIDS Walk Steering Committee and senior director of strategic communications in University Relations. “Dedicated to our public mission, UCSF has been a strong supporter of AIDS Walk San Francisco from the start and I am so happy that for the past two years, we have exceeded fundraising goals set by the steering committee.”
Supporting Local Health Organizations
Funds raised by AIDS Walk support dozens of Bay Area AIDS service organizations, including the Alliance Health Project. As a community partner, AHP receives 100 percent of the proceeds that people donated to the team’s walkers, which they use to provide mental health services for HIV and LGBTQ.
Haas says that this year’s funding will be used primarily to support a series of community workshops and AHP’s free mental health clinic, which offers psychiatry, therapy and substance abuse services.
“I personally feel very proud of our work, so it is an easy thing for me to fundraise,” she says. “The AHP staff is so dedicated and the clients tell us over and over again that we saved their lives. It certainly saved mine.”
Haas had been brainstorming for fundraising ideas for the program, and had considered organizing a walk but decided that the enormous AIDS Walk offered the most opportunity.
What stood out for Haas the most at the end of the day was the tremendous support she felt for being a part of a bigger organization. “When our team decided to participate, I had no idea how it would bring our little program within the Department of Psychiatry closer to others at UCSF to become part of something so huge.”
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