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STEPS raises over $6,000 with AIDS Walk
Monday, December 10, 2007

Aids Walk volunteers
Students from STEPS and Advisor Julie Bezek (far right) celebrate the success of the AIDS Walk at SUNY Fredonia.

STEPS, a student organization at SUNY Fredonia, hosted Chautauqua County’s first annual AIDS walk recently, raising over $6,200 as well as campus and community awareness of the AIDS pandemic in Africa.

The walk included more than 100 participants and covered more than two miles. Funds collected will benefit the Malawi Children’s Village Foundation, which assists African children orphaned by the disease.

Among those participating were Douglas and Ann Manly of Fredonia, who served as guests of honor, and members of the university administration. The Manly’s son, David, was HIV positive and passed away from AIDS in 1983. Mr. Manly is former chair of the Fredonia College Foundation and Mrs. Manly, a member of the Fredonia College Council. They were presented with a certificate of appreciation, and Mrs. Manly spoke at the reception following the walk at the Williams Center about David and what the AIDS Walk meant to them.

After music and presentations at the reception, those assembled participated in a 250-balloon release and moment of silence to commemorate World AIDS day. Sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt were brought to Fredonia for display, including the panel dedicated to David Manly.

SUNY Fredonia President Dennis Hefner was the official starter for the walk, which began at Barker Common in the village. Drummers from the Fredonia Percussion Guild performed prior to the walk and as a farewell from Barker Common. Fredonia Mayor Michael Sullivan, along with Dr. Kevin Denny, co-founder of the Malawi Children’s Village, and Susan Denny, a member of the Malawi Children’s Village Foundation board, gave remarks at the reception.

The event’s sponsor, the student group STEPS (Students Teaching Equals Positive Sexuality), was formed in 1992 to educate students about HIV/AIDS, STDs, homophobia, sexual assault, and healthy and unhealthy relationships. The group provides a student-centered resource for the campus and has visited other area campuses and high schools. Eleven months of planning of the 35-member group went into the event, which also included raffles, jar wars competition between residence halls, t-shirt sales, co-sponsorship of a rock concert, and donations from the community and students. Junior Public Relations major Molly Kubic of Allegany chaired the event, advisor to the group is CEASE Coordinator Julie Bezek, and senior English Adolescence Education major Christopher Reybrouck of Palmyra is president of the organization.

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