Run Towards Your Goal: What It Means To Be Part of AIDS Run & Walk

Since 2001, more than 23,000 participants have raised $5.5 million to battle the HIV epidemic. AIDS Run & Walk Chicago increases awareness about HIV/AIDS and supports AIDS Foundation Chicago and more than 30 partners, with proceeds directly benefiting programs and services improving the lives of Chicagoans living with HIV. Learn more about why people are joining the Howard Brown Health team for the 2021 AIDS Run & Walk!

Edgar Tovar

2021 is Edgar’s second year in a row on team Howard Brown Health.

Edgar Tovar and his cat Moo warming up for a practice run

Why do you participate in the AIDS Run & Walk?

As I’ve gotten older I’ve wanted to find ways to find ways to give back to the community in a way that works around my work schedule. The AIDS Run & Walk is a great cause that gives me the opportunity to make an impact.

What motivated you to join team Howard Brown?

For years prior to having Howard Brown by my primary health provider location, I’d known of Howard Brown as a good resource for the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve gotten to see that firsthand over the past several years, so when I saw there was a team for Howard Brown I immediately wanted to join and be a part of it.

Do you have any fun stories to share which happened during AIDS Run & Walk or during your training for AIDS Run & Walk?

Last year during the pandemic was a challenging time in many aspects. One was feeling disconnected from friends and family. In preparing for the 2020 virtual AIDS Run & Walk, I was able to meet up with people I hadn’t seen in what felt like forever to walk outside while still remaining socially distant and wearing masks. It was great to be able to share that experience and feel a little more connected to people I care about.

How would you define the word “community” and what does it mean for you?

Overall when I think of community, I think of the people you can turn to for support when you come across challenges, the people that celebrate you when something great happens in your life, the people who will share their experiences with you, and the people you know count on you to do the same for them.

What’s your goal for the run/walk itself?

My goal is to raise money for an amazing cause, have a great time at the event, and meet some of the other participants. As an introvert, that last goal is going to be the toughest one for me, but I’m excited for it!


Michelle Abramson

Michele participated in AIDS Run & Walk since 1990. 2021 is her second year on team Howard Brown Health.

Michelle Abramson getting ready for the 2019 AIDS Run & Walk

Why do you participate in the AIDS Run & Walk?

As a teenager in the 80’s, my sister had a friend Rich.  I knew he wasn’t her boyfriend. He had a boyfriend. I remember when he became sick and I remember when he died. It was the first time I heard the word AIDS. I didn’t realize at that time how many lives would be taken. Participating in the AIDS Run & Walk is a great way to raise funds and awareness. It’s a way for me to honor those who have passed, support those living with HIV, and hopefully make a difference in the lives of others right here in Chicago.

What motivated you to join team Howard Brown?

I’ve been participating in the AIDS Run & Walk for decades and I believe in Howard Brown’s mission. As a volunteer I cannot imagine walking with any other team. Howard Brown motivates me to be the best I can be so that I may help others. 

Who is your biggest supporter?

My biggest supporter continues to be my partner in life, my husband Phil. He’s not only the first one to donate, he also understands my longstanding commitment to Howard Brown and AIDS Run & Walk Chicago. 

How would you define the word “community” and what does it mean for you?

Community for me exists when people come together for the greater good of others and our world. For me community helps create and strengthen bonds. Community means understanding and having compassion and empathy for those you know and those you don’t.  It means acceptance when one is unable to understand. Community means I’m never alone. A strong community can make change happen. 

How are you training for the run/walk?

I don’t require training to prepare for AIDS Walk & Run. The energy I feel walking along our beautiful Chicago lakefront makes me forget the distance. Participating with the Howard Brown Team makes it so much more fun! 


Bubba Granger

Bubba Granger cooling down after a run

Why do you participate in the AIDS Run & Walk?

Originally I did it because I wanted to become more active in the community. After the first few years of doing it on my own I became the team captain for my company and I put a company team together for five years. But now I would say my primary reason for participating is because I want to keep people talking about HIV/AIDS and getting tested on a regular basis! Because of my willingness to talk openly about it I’ve had people reach out to me looking for resources for both testing and treatment.

What motivated you to join team Howard Brown?

Howard Brown was the first place that I ever got screened for HIV/STIs, and now my primary care physician is at Howard Brown.

Do you have any tips to share on how you raise donations?

My biggest advice would be as you go through your email list and ask everyone, because even people that you think won’t donate to you might just donate.

What’s your goal for the run/walk itself?

My goal is to finish and make as many new friends as I can!


Join Edgar, Michelle, and Bubba at this year’s AIDS Run & Walk and support LGBTQ health! By joining the Howard Brown Health team or donating to a team member, you are a vital part of raising necessary funds for HIV/AIDS prevention, outreach, screenings, and access to PrEP. Sign up here or donate to our existing team to help those living with HIV.

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