By Bailey Williams
I spent most mornings in the summer of 2016 running before work. I’d run a neighborhood route, often in the streets when cars were few, the sun was rising, and nothing but birds and insects could be heard. I was in the best shape of my life and had finally gotten down to easily running 7-minute miles. When the annual AIDS Run & Walk Chicago came around on Oct. 1, I was ready. Even though it rained, I ended up placing first out of all female participants in the 5K race.
Although I won that year and have run multiple races at this point, the thing most people don’t know about me is I don’t enjoy running. I’ve trained the past few years with the specific intent to raise funds for people living with HIV, but the training itself was never easy nor particularly fun for me. It is with utter relief that this year I don’t feel the need to run to fundraise.
Because of COVID-19, Run & Walk is offering a variety of ways for participants to get involved with fundraising in ways that are safe and accommodating to where this pandemic finds each one of us. I don’t know about you, but this pandemic does not find me in the best shape of my life. Thankfully, there’s options for everyone.
Option 1: Run & Walk Week
From Monday, Sept. 28 to Friday, Oct. 2, you can enjoy a socially distant run, walk or roll at any or all of the following neighborhoods between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
On Saturday, Oct. 3, you can also go for a socially distant run, walk or roll in the Loop at Grant Park sometime between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Option 2: Run, walk or roll at your own pace, at your own place
Starting Sept. 1, registered participants will have access to the RaceJoy phone app that will guide you through a virtual race whenever you’re ready and wherever you’re located, whether that’s in Chicago or downstate Illinois. Here are some ideas for what your race day can look like:
Option 3: Stay-at-Home Fundraiser
This year, you can also sign up to fundraise from afar and receive fun prizes for reaching fundraising milestones, including an event T-shirt if you raise $150 by Sept. 17. This option is perfect for someone who would prefer to fundraise from home.
All participants can also tune in to Facebook Saturday, Oct. 3 to the live Run & Walk celebration that will feature community stories, performances and the ability to connect with each other online.
In addition to those options, each participant can jazz up their experience even further. Here are a few ideas:
For the first time ever, you can truly experience Run & Walk however you want. Regardless of how you choose to participate this year, if you have the means, energy and spirit to fundraise during this time for people living with HIV, please do. Your fundraising can help us end the HIV epidemic in Illinois by 2030.
Bailey Williams is a past and current participant of AIDS Run & Walk Chicago and the communications specialist at AFC. To support AIDS Run & Walk Chicago, register and fundraise here. To support Bailey’s fundraiser, donate here.