In response to the effects of COVID-19, Cempa Community Care and the Chattanooga CARES Foundation have decided to host their 25th annual Strides of March fundraiser as a Facebook Live event.
The live stream will begin at noon on Friday. Remarks will be made by Shannon Stephenson, CEO at Cempa, and Lyn Harris, Cempa board member. Dr. Jay Sizemore, chief medical officer at Cempa, will provide an HIV update.
"Strides of March raises thousands of dollars each year that help provide holistic care for those with HIV, hepatitis C and other STIs in our community," officials said.
“When we held our first walk in 1995, receiving a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS was a stark reality without much hope,” says Mitzi Ward, Development & Events coordinator at Cempa, who actually attended the first-ever Strides of March awareness walk.
“Today, things are much different. Care for HIV has advanced lightyears beyond what was available 25 years ago. Strides of March allows us to celebrate that, while also honoring lives lost in those early days.”
While the awareness walk portion of the event has been canceled, event organizers want community members to know the fundraising aspect of Strides of March remains paramount. As of Friday morning, the organization has raised more than $42,000 of its $60,000 goal.
“I think it’s important to help an organization that helps our community,” says Lyn Harris, Cempa board member. “I’ve seen Cempa evolve over the years and the great work that they do is just undeniable.”
Ms. Ward echoes that sentiment and adds that it’s the people involved that truly make Strides of March have such an impact.
“When I think about this event, the long-term survivors come to mind,” Ms. Ward says. “There are a lot of people who were there for that first walk when things looked bleak, and they’re still here.”