AIDS Walk Wisconsin raises more than $341,000 for research, treatment

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- Scientists, doctors and families have been battling AIDS for more than 30 years.  For many of the people down at the Summerfest grounds Saturday, that fight is personal.

Sheboygan's Shirley Brey-Traas can tell you how AIDS caused her decades of pain.

 "I had a son die from AIDS in 1991," Shirley said.

Every year since, Shirley has joined thousands of people in raising money to battle the disease. Saturday, they showed off  their efforts with the annual AIDS Walk Wisconsin at Milwaukee's lakefront.

 "It's great to know that everybody's helping the cause," Shirley said.

The 87-year-old mother of four broke her hip and can't walk this year, but she still made the trek in her wheelchair.  More  than 2100  people joined her.

AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin CEO Mike Gifford has helped with the walk for 21 years.  He says about 400 people contract  HIV in Wisconsin every year.

"AIDS is the greatest public health crisis of our time," Gifford said.   "That may be difficult for some people to understand.  But  everybody here can understand and put a face on the AIDS epidemic."

State Senator Chris Larson got the chance to see some of those faces today.  The Milwaukee Democrat hopes people in his district and all over know the fight against AIDS is ongoing.

 "I think there's a lot less of a stigma," Larson said.  "But it's still important to make sure people are preventing the risk and then on the  other side, making sure that we continue to get funds for research."

Shirley knows that research can't bring her son back.  But through some of the $341,481 raised for Saturday, it could someday help other sick people beat the disease for good.

"I tell them all the time that there still is no cure, but they're keeping people alive longer," Shirley said.
 

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