Swim, Walk and Bike for Utahns with HIV/AIDS

This fall, the Utah AIDS Foundation will host three fun, active and exciting annual events to benefit its programs.

On Sept. 12, the foundation will hold its 10th Aqua Aid, a fun, poolside event featuring food, cocktails and a performance by the members of the Queer Utah Aquatic Club.

“They perform some water ballet and drag shows, they end up in the water in their wigs and it’s always really funny,” said Nathan Measom, the foundation’s development director.

Since 2008, Quinn Richins and Kerry Sanford have hosted the party at their home pool.

“It is a venue where people come, eat great food, drink and watch QUAC perform,” said Richins. “QUAC performs about four different performances, which typically end up with the team doing some sort of synchronized swimming in our pool.”

Richins and Sanford said they are “grateful” for the chance to help UAF hold the party every year because they believe in “the value and essential education and assistance” the group provides. Money from the event, said Richins, goes to a number of foundation programs and services, such as purchasing condoms and other materials for safer sex packets, testing supplies for the organization’s test sites and funding 3D (Doctors, Dudes and Dinner)—a free dinner event that brings gay and bisexual men together with health professionals for frank talks about sexual health.

“This event is a great way for people in our community to get to know what the Utah AIDS Foundation does,” said Richins, noting that UAF staff, volunteers and board members regularly attend the party. “Without our fund-raising efforts and the support from people in our community, the Utah AIDS Foundation would not be able to implement important programs like these.”

Aqua Aid will take place at the home of Quinn Richins and Kerry Sanford, 3693 Oakview Dr. Tickets are a $50 suggested donation and can be purchased at the door. For more information about this event call Nathan Measom at 801-487-2323.

Roughly a week later, UAF will hold its annual Walk For Life and its second annual Bike for Life. The walk will begin at Liberty Park at 9 a.m. on Sept. 18 (registration starts at 8 a.m.). Registration is free, and walkers may walk alone, with a requested Walk Buddy, with friends or even with their dogs.

Held at the same time, Bike For Life is a more strenuous activity. This year, the ride will kick off at Liberty Park and wind up Emigration Canyon. Its total length is 22 miles.

“We were really happy with the turn out last year,” said Measom. “When you start a new event you never know how it’s going to go.”

Although several bikers participated in the 2009, the inaugural ride had a few hiccups.  The route changed to accommodate unexpected road construction and, as Measom put it, included “a pretty grueling hill.” In response to feedback about this and other parts of the route, the Foundation decided to send bikers up the canyon this year.

“It’s going to be more bike-friendly and a beautiful route,” said Measom.
Registration for both events is free and open now at utahaids.org. After registering, participants can create their own fund-raising web pages to collect donations.

“It’s one of the easiest ways you can support programs for people with HIV,” said Measom.

And he and the rest of the Foundation’s employees are hoping that a lot of people will turn out at all three events to do just that.

“I look at the numbers for cities our size for their AIDS walks and it just blows Salt Lake out of the water,” said Measom. “I’d like to see people in Salt Lake step up and participate in ways people in other cities do. In Denver [for example], their walk is huge. It would be great if we could get people to the place where we have that support as well.”

For more information about Aqua Aid, Bike For Life and Walk For Life visit utahaids.org.

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