On the evening of July 17th, researchers, community leaders, and friends will gather at the AIDS Memorial Garden in Highland Park for a candlelight vigil and walk, organized by the HIV/AIDS Community Advisory Board of the University of Rochester.
The event will consist of a remembrance vigil, followed by a candlelight walk in honor of “the journey we’ve made and the path ahead to put an end to HIV/AIDS around the world.”
The 1.2-mile walk will take participants from the AIDS Memorial Garden to the steps of URMC’s Clinical Research Center at Whipple Circle where leaders in Rochester’s search for a vaccine to stop HIV’s spread will share insight and words of hope.
Bruce Whitmore, Community Advisory Board member for the Rochester Victory Alliance, spoke to the Empty Closet about the need for the event and its importance in the legacy of our community’s history.
“I have a passion to make sure [those who died of AIDS] are not forgotten. I realized how many people don’t even know about the AIDS Memorial Garden.”
After living in L.A. for much of his adult life, Bruce returned to his hometown about a year and a half ago. Recalling a time into our not-so-distant past when AIDS was an immediate death sentence, he wants our community across all ages and identities to remember its impact and never forget what it took to achieve what advancements exist today.
When grappling with a personal loss, Bruce started to search out the different memorial gardens around the Rochester area. When he found the AIDS Memorial Garden, he worked to find someone to commit to make an HIV/AIDS memorial walk happen. He currently assists Rochester Victory Alliance with their work in HIV vaccine trials and community education and proposed the idea there.
With the board’s support of his vigil, Bruce organized the event itself — including location, route and program. He hopes his dedication to his community members, past, present, and future, will show in this commemoration.
“My biggest fear is that all of this will be forgotten and left behind. I know the impact this had, and I want to make sure everyone understands and remembers.”
The HIV/AIDS Candelight Vigil and Walk will take place from 7:30-9pm on Tuesday, July 17 starting in the AIDS Memorial Garden in Highland Park. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.