Waking up before 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning and walking through the pouring rain is not something most college students would choose to do, but that is exactly what 45 Knox students did last weekend. According to the Galesburg Register-Mail, 150 people gathered at the Carl Sandburg Mall to walk and raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS.
The students boarded a school bus bright and early and arrived at the mall to be part of the opening ceremony. From there, they walked 1.4 miles before returning to the mall for the recognition of teams and awards.
Sophomore Amanda Lee said, “The students set out just as it started pouring rain.” They were completely soaked by the time they came back, but Lee and freshman Ryan Hansen both claimed that the rain was their favorite part of the event.
Kathleen Ridlon, Coordinator of the Center for Community Service, said the rain “was a lot of fun; it was part of the experience.”
Ridlon was excited to start off the year with the AIDS walk. She said the walk was, “a great way to meet people and help students get connected to the community.”
The planning for the walk started last year when an HIV/AIDS Task Force of Western Illinois representative approached Ridlon. She agreed it would be a good event for Knox and started advertising and also began to set up a table for students to register. They were impressed with the number of interested students.
Ridlon was also awed with students taking the initiative to get involved with this event. Lee, a Residential Advisor, made the walk into an event for her residents. Another student could not make it to the walk but asked to sponsor a student.
Though the students had a lot of fun in the rain, the purpose behind the event was not lost. Knox students raised $1,000 and showed support for the cause and the Galesburg community. Ridlon explained that it is important for college students to be involved because they can, “go farther and be heard louder” in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS.
For Tim Johnson, the interim Associate Dean of the College, also a walk participant, the highlight of the event was a conversation he had with Elizabeth, a woman who shared her story of HIV/AIDS at the beginning of the walk. He said it was inspiring “to listen to how she’s fighting and doing that with a smile on her face.”
The walk connected Knox students with the Galesburg community. According to Lee, their participation said to the community, “Yes, we care about Galesburg and world issues!” Freshman Ryan Harper encouraged Knox students to “get out there, have fun and be supportive of your community.”