By Mark Ambrogi
Tanya Gilbert has a personal reason for getting involved in the Indiana AIDS Walk.
“I took a class from a professor as an undergraduate who started to share with us she was HIV positive and how she contracted the disease and what little support she had,” Gilbert said. “I was very moved by the lecture. She was a graduate teacher as well, and she ended up mentoring me in the graduate program in medical sociology. There was a scholarship available, and I applied for it and got it and ended up working with her for two years of my (IUPUI) master’s program (2005-07). She’s involved with the AIDS Walk.”
Gilbert, a 33-year-old Carmel resident, will participate in her first Indiana AIDS Walk, set for 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 24.
“The only reason I never did it before 2016 is I was highly involved in the Corporate Challenge, which fell on the exact same day the last three years,” said Gilbert, a client account executive at American Health Network. “I’m still involved in the Corporate Challenge, but it does not fall on the same day this year.”
The Indiana AIDS Walk is a fundraising event to benefit the Gregory R. Powers Direct Emergency Financial Assistance Fund. DEFA provides emergency financial assistance and direct care for those throughout Indiana impacted by HIV/AIDS who are living at or below the poverty level.
“It’s important to get awareness out for preventive reasons,” Gilbert said. “Changing the stigma of AIDS and HIV is what I’m passionate about. It’s more of a chronic condition now than a death sentence. It’s a livable condition. It’s not contagious, obviously, to the general public. Seeing how the stigma people I’ve known with HIV and changing that to me is the most important part, along with finding a cure and prevention. Sharing someone’s story about having HIV was such a powerful message to me. There are a lot of reasons why I went into health and wellness but that was the turning point. I was going to get into social work and changed to medical sociology.”
The event will be held at Herron Morton Place Neighborhood at the corner of Alabama and 16th streets. Activities include live entertainment and a pet pit stop.
More than 1,000 people participated in the 2015 walk. Organizers have set a goal of 1,500 walkers this year.
For more, visit facebook.com/IndianaAIDSWalk/.