Hundreds turn out for Tucson AIDS Walk
Reporter: Cory Marshall
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Twenty-five years ago the Tucson AIDS Walk didn't exist--In it's place was a candlelight vigil where six people showed up.
It was a much different scene in Downtown Tucson Saturday as hundreds turned out for the annual event.
It's not just a walk--a big part of the fundraiser is a quilt opening ceremony. For Tucson resident Kevin McCoy, it was the first time he saw his sister's name on the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
"[It's] just a well of emotions. A longing, missing, sorrow, just a combination," said McCoy.
McCoy's sister, Lauren, died of AIDS 25 years ago. He says she was the first woman diagnosed with the disease in Southern Arizona.
"Well if you notice, only her first name is on the panel and that's because of the stigma that was attached," continued McCoy.
At the time, he and his family were told to say she died of Cancer.
"It was a dirty little secret with our family," said McCoy.
Today, AIDS no longer carries the same hushed stigma.
"Now, we can be more open about [AIDS]. I think we need to be more open about that to bring the awareness that this disease is still afflicting people," said McCoy.
"We've made a lot of strides but there is still a long way to go," said Monique Vallery of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation.
"I think because we know in the work that we do, we understand the names on these quilts. We understand the impact they made in the community and too many lives were lost from it," continued Vallery.