People Behind the Walk for a Cure

Lenape Staff at Aids Walk

Lenape Staff at Aids Walk

For the past 5 years, Lenape High School has hosted the Kevin Todd Memorial Walk in honor of Kevin Todd, who was a Lenape graduate who died of AIDS. During the time he was battling this disease, Kevin had told his sister, Lisa O’Neil, that his greatest fear was that after he passed away, he would be forgotten. In honor of her brother and believing that is was the greatest way to keep his memory alive, Lisa started the Spirit of Holidays charity. Both the charity and Aids Walk, which has then since also expanded into a 5K run, have been widely successful since their conception. This year the walk raised around a generous $2,500 . At the event, which took place on May 9th from 10 p.m. to noon, there were also concession stands and games such as human pack man where students got to soak Lenape Staff!

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Below is an interview with Jamie Fauver, media center specialist, who is one of the advisors from Lenape that helps runs the walk every year on her experience and involvement with this great charity.

Q: How did you get involved with the AIDS walk?

A: I got involved for a number of reasons. I work with a senior health class on research projects involving HIV and AIDS and six years ago, some students were disturbed by the state of HIV/AIDS around the world and in the U.S. and wanted to help. We sold bracelets that year and sent a donation to an international charity.  In the meantime, Lisa O’Neill from Spirit of the Holidays came in to speak to senior health classes about her brother (Kevin Todd, a Lenape grad who died of AIDS) and the local charity she started in his honor.  This seemed like fate that we should meet.  The students from that year, Lisa and I started brainstorming what we could do to help and we decided to develop a Walk event at Lenape.  We are very lucky to have such generous teachers and staff at Lenape who have provided guidance and their time and efforts to help us organize this event each year.

Q: What does this event signify to you? What is your viewpoint of the AIDS walk?

A: Growing up, I was very close to my uncle, my mother’s brother.  He was awesome and was probably the family member I was closest to.  Even though he lived across the country, we would visit him and he would come back to NJ for every holiday.  I would never leave his side when he was home!  Uncle Ron was my idol as a child and when I was in middle school, he passed away from AIDS.  I vividly remember how he suffered and what we all went through in a time when there were not the treatments available today.  Sadly, many people today do not have the resources available to get the proper treatments.  Anything I can do to help these people, I want to do.  This Walk/5k supports Spirit of the Holidays, which is a local organization that helps needy families in South Jersey impacted by HIV and AIDS during the winter holiday season.  Because of the Walk, these needy families will get a holiday with presents and a full dinner.

Q:How much work does it take to prepare this event every single year? What do you do in order to prepare for the walk?

A: Tons!!!  It is incredible the amount of time that is needed to prepare for this type of event.  Luckily, we have an excellent group of dedicated students that help us and the Lenape staff are more than gracious in providing guidance with the 5k set up, getting donations, volunteering to help the day of the event and more.

Q:How successful is the run? What are the predictions for the turnout of the walk this year/amount of money raised?

A:We typically have about 100 registrants and have donated between $3,000 and $3,500 each year.  Of course, we always hope for hundreds of people and to donate even more to this worthy cause!

Q:Do you believe there is a stigma  with AIDS that prevents people from completely accepting the disease? If so how do you believe this affects our own community? What is your viewpoint on AIDS in general as a disease?

A:Yes, sadly, there is still a stigma that AIDS only affects people with a specific sexual orientation, gender, race or age.  The hope is that with your generation – our current students and younger children – this stigma will disappear.  Education is key and it is important for every single person’s health that it is understood that ANYONE can become infected and we must all work to continue to spread the word about
prevention and work toward a cure.

Q:What makes you want to help organize the walk every single year?

A: The difference this makes for individuals and families in south Jersey is why we do it.  If we can help even 1 person, it is worth it.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 6.26.52 PMIf you missed out on the walk this year, it’s not big deal! Be sure to come out and support this wonderful, local charity next year on May 7th!20150509_104503Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 6.24.47 PM