Don’t expect the same old same old at this year’s Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the annual fundraiser for the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) will look a lot different this year.
And we have the walk’s chair Shaun Proulx (pictured below right) to thank for that. Says Proulx: “Instead of doing a walk day, we’re doing a walk week.”
Worried that the walk would grow stale as fundraisers often do (remember Dancers for Life, Fashion Cares, etc), media entrepreneur Proulx, a longtime walk participant himself, thought it was high time to “turn the whole thing upside down.” But more to the point, this year the event committee wanted to ensure added effort was made to honour the community, the volunteers and all people who’ve been living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
And his expectations are high. “My hope is that by getting people thinking about the walk a bit earlier, we can surpass our goal of $500,000,” says Proulx.
So what innovative ideas does Team Proulx have up its sleeve?
Church Street Painted Red
Starting the week of Mon, Sep 16, bars, restaurants and businesses in the Church and Wellesley Village will go red to honour the AIDS ribbon. “Businesses will paint their windows red, put red lights up, put on their own artistic display, put out balloons and streamers,” says Proulx. “It will be beautiful.”
Shaun Proulx Speaker Series
Proulx will take control of the mic and interview three people living with HIV/AIDS live at Buddies In Bad Times theatre. “It’s important to remind people why this is still important,” says Proulx. The event takes place at 7:30pm on Mon, Sep 16 at 12 Alexander St. It’s pay-what-you-can with all proceeds to go to the AIDS walk.
Wine and Dine Me, Darlin’
Time to take your hubby or bubby out for dinner on Tue, Sep 17 when participating Church Street restaurants will offer a special menu in honour of the walk. The same idea will apply on Thu, Sep 19, when select village bars will serve special red cocktails. All participating businesses will donate partial proceeds to the walk.
New Year, New Route
This year, Cawthra Park, where the AIDS memorial sits, will be closed and, therefore, inaccessible. Instead, walk participants will have the opportunity to participate in a giant memorial art project along the route in Allan Gardens. What is created that day will hang in the ACT office. “The route has been specially designed to take walkers past other significant spots in and around the village,” says Proulx. The ACT office, Fife House, the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, Glad Day Book Shop, to name just a few. Expect buskers along the way.
Also this year, walkers can access an audio tour of the walk via their smartphones. For example, says Proulx, “You’ll pass The Phoenix [nightclub] and learn how it was the site of the first Fashion Cares; you’ll pass Casey House and learn more about what they do.” Downloadable links are available via gayguidetoronto.com.
Party in the Parking Lot
The Red Party, a post-walk dance bash, will unfold in the parking lot between Crews and Tangos, and O’Grady’s at Church and Maitland. “We’re bringing back people’s favourite dance anthems of the last 25 years,” says Proulx. “It’ll be the climax of Church Street goes red.” A red dress code is in effect.
Scotiabank Aids Walk For Life. 2pm (11am registration); Sun, Sep, 22. Church and Carlton streets. Register at aidswalkforlife.ca.