WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBS) — Thirty thousand people walked 10 kilometers through West Hollywood and the Fairfax district Sunday for the 27th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles, raising slightly more than $3 million for AIDS Project Los Angeles.
The $3,005,014 raised today increases the total raised to fight the disease in Los Angeles County since the walk's inception to more than $72 million, according to Craig E. Thompson, AIDS Project Los Angeles' executive director.
The walk is the largest single source of funding each year for AIDS Project Los Angeles, which provides bilingual direct services for people with AIDS and prevention education, Thompson said.
"Without this event, we could not offer these life-sustaining services -- our food pantries, housing assistance, dental care and so much more -- that more than 10,000 clients depend on.
"There are more people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles than at any other time in history -- 63,000 Angelenos -- but we face an unprecedented era of government austerity. That's why private giving through events like AIDS Walk Los Angeles is more critical than ever."
While the amount of walkers has been about the same over recent years, the economic downturn has made raising money harder, Thompson said.
"What we're counting on is that as the economy comes people will be able to be a little more generous," Thompson said. "I don't want to suggest they're not being generous, but in the future, they will have the ability to be a little more generous and I know they will."
Los Angeles was the first metropolitan area where an AIDS walk was held.
The walk "is an opportunity for our city to come together, to walk as one, with hope in our hearts for the families who have lost a loved one," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was among the elected officials participating in the walk's opening ceremony at the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards.
The Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles brought several Southern California Jewish and Israeli organizations to walk together under the banner of Israel for a Cure, including Democrats for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition, seeking to highlight work being done by AIDS Project Los Angeles and scientists and physicians in Israel to eradicate the virus.
"It is inspiring to bring together a united community from various political, religious and social organizations to walk for a common purpose and support a meaningful humanitarian cause," Israeli Consul General David Siegel said.
There were many stars also in attendance including Drew Carey, the comic and "Price is Right" host, Carson Kressley of "Dancing With the Stars," and Dot Marie Jones who plays Coach Beiste on "Glee" being among the most visible and vocal.
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