USC students participated in the annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles in West Hollywood on Sunday.
The walk, in which about 30,000 people participated, was organized by AIDS Project Los Angeles, a group that hopes to improve the lives of those fighting HIV/AIDS while raising awareness through various events.
USC’s Undergraduate Student Government’s Community Affairs Committee organized transportation for students to participate in Sunday’s AIDS Walk Los Angeles in West Hollywood.
“We’re not specifically endorsing the walk, we’re just providing transportation for USC members in a safe way. We’ve been doing it every year so it has just become tradition to do it,” said Kandace London, USG’s director of community affairs. “We provided transportation by offering two to three buses all paid for by Undergraduate Student Government.”
USG began offering this service after they learned that every year numerous USC students wanted to attend the walk but were unable to make it because of a lack of transportation. Since then, they said they have tried to accommodate student needs.
“We made it our mission to make sure that anyone who wanted to participate in it would have a free way to get there,” London said.
Students said they took advantage of USG’s services for various reasons. Levi Powell, a junior majoring in dental hygiene, participated because he believed this event would bring his fraternity together, while also helping a good cause.
“I chose to attend this event for two reasons, in support of my fraternity and to spend my time on something worthwhile,” said powell. “It’s the start of our ‘Kappa Week’ at my fraternity [Kappa Alpha Psi], where we do different events everyday throughout the week.”
Powell’s fraternity brother, Bryen Irving agreed with him.
“Our fraternity feels it’s important to reach out to the community. I’ve heard about the walk because I’m from L.A.,” said Irving, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. “It was powerful to see this many people turn out for a cause like this, and this isn’t a one-time thing because they are bringing people out like this every year.”
Other students were excited to spend time with different groups from outside of the USC community.
“I had never experienced the coming together of such a diverse group. It was definitely eye-opening to see how such a big city could unite to help others,” said Riyana Chakraborty, a member of USG Community Affairs.
Many celebrities also participated, including stars of the ABC television show, Revenge, and famous personalities such as Richard Simmons. Hundreds of people gathered for the opening ceremonies as these stars spoke about how AIDS has affected them and the importance of acceptance.
Numerous companies also donated their products to encourage the walkers. Companies such as Evolution Fresh and Gatorade donated millions of bottles of their products to be passed along to participants as they made their way toward the finish line.
USG Community Affairs member Evelyn Lee appreciated the hundreds of volunteers who gathered along the path handing out snacks, fresh fruit and drinks.
“I think it was really encouraging to have people not only constantly keeping you hydrated, but also cheering for the entire path to the finish line,” Lee said. “They stood along the sidelines giving high-fives and telling people to drink water and stay healthy.”
Students who participated in the walk said they were happy to see such a diverse group come together for a cause.
“It surprised me how much people care for one another,” Chakraborty said. “I am proud to live in a place like Los Angeles where people are accepting and the opportunities for change are so limitless.”
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