Thousands take part in 14th Florida AIDS Walk in Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Thousands of people laced up their sneakers and headed to Fort Lauderdale to take part in the 14th annual Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival.

The event, held Saturday at South Beach Park, aims to raise awareness and funds for HIV and AIDS services throughout South Florida, which has become the epicenter of the disease in the U.S.

“This is a community health initiative overall, and that’s why there’s so many people here today celebrating that it’s Florida’s AIDS Walk, but also bringing attention to the issue of HIV/AIDS,” said Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE.

The event kicked off with a 5K walk, followed by a massive beach party featuring live music, tents in the sand and food trucks.

This year, Grammy Award-winning artist Shaggy and the queen of bounce music, Big Freedia, took the stage.

Supporters said they want people to connect and care for one another.

“Spreading HIV is preventable. Getting tested is not scary,” said Mark Angle, director of development at Broward House. “The more you know, the more you get tested, the better off you and all the people in your world will be.”

The organization annually raises more than $1 million each year.

Proceeds from AIDS Walk will go toward research and charities that provide HIV and AIDS services to people who cannot afford them.

“It’s amazing. It’s something that’s needed all across the world,” said participant Josh Zorn, “and we’re so lucky to be in Florida, where this is accessible to so many people.”

The Aids Healthcare Foundation says this year, 10 nonprofit organizations that provide HIV and AIDS services in South Florida will benefit from the money raised.

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