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Emily Hite
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San Francisco AIDS Marathon

by Emily Hite
March 17, 2007
San Francisco, CA
Dance lovers can appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into a life passion and the sense of community that is formed by many people with a common belief playing any sized role in a production. When a good friend shared with me the news that he would be training for the San Francisco Marathon to help combat AIDS, I thought many people might be interested in hearing about his choice to play a direct and physically demanding part in a struggle that effects everyone. The dance community is particularly touched by AIDS, having lost some of its most creative and courageous artists to the disease while unfortunately continuing to face its painful passage to the tragic conclusion. Joshua Oakley, runner # 7295, is one of many committed individuals working to increase awareness, action and funding for AIDS research and treatment. Below is his letter to friends, family and interested others, detailing his journey as a participant of the San Francisco Marathon.



Dear Friend,

I am writing to let you know that I have begun training for the San Francisco Marathon that takes place on July 29, 2007. No one is as surprised as I am at this undertaking; I dropped my jaw sometime last week when I realized I was actually going to go through with a 26.2 mile run, and I can't seem to get it back in place. During the next six months, with the help of the San Francisco Aids Foundation, and the National Aids Marathon Training Program, I will log over 500 miles in preparation for the big day.

Despite progress and research, the aids pandemic still looms over us, a dark cloud on the horizon. More than one million Americans and 42 million others throughout the world are living with HIV. In the Bay Area alone, one in fifty persons lives with this disease. I don't know a single person whose life hasn't been affected by HIV/Aids in some form, do you? In the gay community an entire generation is gone, wiped out; fathers, brothers, and sons, the teachers and role models to future generations are no longer able to pass on their wisdom and life lessons; leaving my generation, and those to come, to forge a path on our own.

When I first decided to run this marathon, it was because I told myself that it was something I would do before I turned thirty. Oi Vey! Let's just not talk about that though, my therapist says I will get through that transition just fine, and you just have to trust Oprah! Jokes aside though, last Saturday, when I arrived at Golden Gate Park for the first group training run, I began to realize the enormity of what was about to happen. Approximately 125 people all gathering for their own personal reason to begin this journey, and in doing so, each of their goals, along with mine, began to thread together to create a cohesive manifestation of greater good for humanity. I decided then and there to run this race for all of the lost generation that came before mine, although HIV/AIDS is no longer a gay man's disease, as it affects the whole world, it was those brave men who carried the burden of this disease on their shoulders, alone, for so long.

One of the oldest and largest community-based AIDS service organizations in the world, the San Francisco AIDS foundation is committed to end the pandemic and human suffering caused by this terrible disease. The Aids foundation works to achieve that goal by providing direct services to thousands of people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. They supply information about treatment, prevention, and lobby for sound policies regarding HIV/AIDS. In addition they also support the Panagaea Fund, a brand new initiative to support vaccine preparedness and HIV treatment access in developing countries.

This is the part of the letter when I ask you for your help. I am doing as much as I can, and as sore as I am after three miles, I can only imagine what my quads will feel like after 26.2, but I need your support. I am committed to raise at least $1,800 dollars before April 27th, but my personal goal is $2,500. Please allow me to be the channel in which you help put a stop to HIV/AIDS! Any amount will help, I know what it is like to be broke, believe you me, but any amount can and will help! You can go to my Aids Marathon web site to make a donation, it is at:
http://www.aidsmarathon.com/participant.asp?runner=SF-7295&EventCode=SF07
As I said before, any amount will help. If you can't afford to make a donation, perhaps you know someone who can, please pass this letter on. All donations are tax-deductible, so let's make a difference together!
I do believe I have embarked on one of the most arduous physical challenges of my life; and even though I am only one week into training, I feel like a new person, alive and vibrant and ready to do my part to end HIV/AIDS, will you help me?

Thank you so much in advance for your time and generous support. Throughout this journey I will know you helped me and many others.

Sincerely,

Joshua Oakley
Runner number: 7295

P.S. Many corporations have matching gift programs, check with your human resources department; it is an easy way to double your contribution.
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