Remembering how it all started: Acquired Immunity Disease Syndrome (AIDS) Walk Los AngelesBy Yolanda G. Mationg
(Editor’s Note: AIDS Walk LA culminated on October 23 with more than $82 million raised since 1985)
A little more than three decades ago, the very first AIDS Walk Los Angeles took place in 1985.
Organizers of that initial Walk were in great hopes to raise approximately $100,000. Thankfully, with
more than 4,500 individuals who joined the Walk, as they lent their very first participation during that
same event, they raised more than $600,000.
I was always interested in joining the cause that AIDS Walk inspired. As a start, I did by way of
donation requests from kin and close friends, passed on to those who sparked the cause, they who
walked every year.
It wasn’t until sometime in 1999 or 2000 that I started walking. And as I recount, the impetus
for me was seeing long- time friends who became ill. Sadly, they succumbed to the disease. It was
personal, and it wasn’t pretty. It made me realize that I had to do something in memory of my friends.
Those first years I raised a little bit of money, perhaps less than $100.00.
It’s not easy to ask for money from friends, colleagues, and family.
Some are skeptical, perhaps wondering whether the money would really go to help those in
need. But I thought, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know whether they will donate, and the worst they
can say to you is “NO.”
response I received from friends, family, and colleagues. They were so supportive and I was able to
target my goal. Surprisingly, I surpassed it. I was humbly gratified, to say the least.
As the years went by, I increased my goal to $1,000, and have been able to meet and even
surpass that amount every year.
Since 2003, modestly, I have raised more than $30,000 for AIDS Walk LA, a non-profit
The monies raised, help and maintain services to those who are HIV positive and/or who have AIDS.
From some of those services, facilities have emerged: a food pantry, mental health services,
dental treatment, and case management.
AIDS Walk LA has grown since those early days as well. Every year there are approximately
30,000 walkers who raise about $3,000,000 annually.
Since its inception, AIDS Walk LA has raised more than $82,000,000 for AIDS Project LA, and
other associated-AIDS organizations.
I’ve always wanted to give back to the community and feel that my participation in AIDS Walk is
one way of helping those who are HIV positive and /or have AIDS.
Over time, it helps keep alive the memories of those friends who succumbed to the disease.
California-born Yolanda G. Mationg is an alumna of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles where she obtained her undergraduate degree. She received her master’s of arts in Social work from the School of Social Work, University of California-Los Angeles.