by Jennie Gritton
Chattanooga News Writer
CHATTANOOGA - The tenth annual Strides of March was once again a success for Chattanooga Cares, Chattanooga ’s largest AIDS resource center.
Held on March 20, 2005 , the annual run to benefit Chattanooga ’s non-profit offering education, prevention and support for all people affected by HIV.
Attendance has grown steadily over the years and was up 500 from last year. Over 200 volunteers assisted Cares with the event, which offered fun for the whole family.
This year’s Strides of March featured a kids’ carnival, the Seed & Feed Marching Abominable from Atlanta , and guest speaker Danny Roberts, a cast member of MTV’s ninth Real World.
Raising $82,000—$13,000 more than last year—the funds become part of the general operating fund which will be delegated to their many programs including various client services, education/prevention, and the Primary Cares Clinic. Funds come from a variety of sources including individual donations and business/organizational sponsors. Memorial Hospital , one of the corporate sponsors, has participated since 1996.
“We are so thankful to have such a wonderful community to help us carry on the many needed programs of Chattanooga CARES,” said Nicole Bellenfant, Vice President of Community Affairs. “Their efforts ensure that people affected by HIV in the 24 counties we serve are receiving the very best care.”
Chattanooga Cares offers three annual fundraising opportunities: the Strides Of March, The Cut Up for Life, and GAYLA.
Scheduled for September 10, 2005 , The Cut Up For Life offers haircuts, manicures, and much more from some of Chattanooga 's finest beauticians.
GAYLA, meanwhile, is a dinner event that always draws an amazing speaker. Last year’s GAYLA hosted Elizabeth Birch, ex-executive director of HRC. This year, Judy Shepard has just been signed. Mrs. Shepard is, of course, the mother of Matthew Shepard. Since the hate-crime-related death of her son in 1998, Mrs. Shepard founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation whose mission is to develop educational activities, projects, and documentaries that raise awareness of the issues involving discrimination and diversity.
This year’s GAYLA is set for December 2, 2005 .
For more information, Chattanooga Cares can be found online at www.chattanoogacares.org, In Chattanooga you can reach them at (423) 265-2273. Outside the Chattanooga area, you can reach them via their hotline at (800) 960-AIDS.