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UAlbany Mobilizes for Sept. 27 AIDS Walk

September 18, 2009

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Walking to raise money for AIDS awareness.

Asisat Adebola, James Blevins, and Colleen Dundas are spreading the word on campus to raise funds and increase UAlbany's participation in the AIDS Walk on Sept. 27.(Photo Mark Schmidt)

Asisat Adebola, a first-year business major who was born in Nigeria, is doing her part in this year's campuswide participation in the Sept. 27 AIDS Walk in Washington Park.

While she does not personally know anyone who has died from Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), her father has friends and family back home in Nigeria affected by and dying of this disease.

"I am doing the AIDS Walk because it is an epidemic that began in and is most predominant in Africa, where I was born," she said. Adebola, whose family now lives in Staten Island, N.Y., believes greater awareness is necessary worldwide, especially in countries that do not have as many resources as the United States.

While the University has been involved in the AIDS Walk in prior years, this year there will be a much larger effort to raise funds and awareness, said James Blevins, a graduate student in Educational Administration and Policy Studies and residence hall director on Colonial Quad.

"It would be great for this to become a fall tradition here at the University, perhaps comparable in size and contribution to our Relay For Life event in the spring, said Blevins, a native of Mastic Beach, N.Y., who has a bachelor's degree in psychology from UAlbany.

Among this year's events are Pizzeria Uno Day on Sept. 24, when 15-20 percent of all purchases will go to UAlbany's contribution to the AIDS Walk.

Tabling for donations, going door to door in the Quads, and T-shirt making events are all part of the effort to reach out across campus.

Organizers are building relationships with not-for-profit HIV/AIDS organizations and assisting with educational and outreach efforts on campus.

The Community AIDS Partnership of the Capital Region (CAP-CR) runs the AIDS Walk event. The AIDS Council of Northeastern New York has offered free condom distribution and 20-minute HIV screening.

Colleen Dundas, a resident assistant on Colonial, a senior human biology major from Greenwood Lake, Orange County, N.Y., said the many events being organized will help to dispel misconceptions about AIDS.

"AIDS is a pandemic affecting over 33 million people, killing more than 2 million, including 330,000 children," said Dundas. "Get involved, there are so many ways to make a difference."

Dundas has volunteered in the past for the American Heart Association Heart Walk, the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, and the Children's Miracle Network. Earlier this year she hosted a new program to raise awareness about autism. She has looked into volunteering, after graduation, in an AIDS clinic in Capetown, South Africa. After that, she plans to attend medical or dental school and one day specialize in pediatric maxillofacial surgery.

C.J. Belfon is a business major and first-year Residential Life student staff member as well as wellness specialist. "Living in Brooklyn, a city that has three times the national average (of AIDS) and is America's epicenter of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, I should feel the obligation to assist my community and Albany in educating and helping the cause," said Belfon.

Blevins' motto is, "If you can't be there, your $10 can."

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