Candlelight Walk to Mark World AIDS Day at Rehoboth Hometown Parade
Each year, CAMP Rehoboth recognizes World AIDS Day with a Candlelight Walk and Service of Remembrance and Hope, and other activities on December 1. Because the event falls on the same date as the Rehoboth Beach Hometown Christmas parade this year, the candlelight walkers will carry their message of hope in the parade, providing greater visibility and recognition for this important cause. World AIDS Day is a worldwide event that focuses attention on the fight against HIV. It has become one of the most recognized international health days, and provides an opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have died, and celebrate victories such as better understanding of the disease and increased access to treatment.
Another important part of World AIDS Day is the Service of Remembrance and Hope, which will take place the same day at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 18 Olive Avenue in Rehoboth, at 7 p.m. The service will include a reading of names of people whose lives were lost to AIDS. A light supper will follow at 7:45 p.m. All activities are free and open to the public. Epworth United Methodist Church pastor, Reverend Vicky Starnes, says: “Rehoboth’s celebration and acknowledgment of World AIDS Day is such a meaningful experience—the Candlelight Walk, and the reading of the names. It’s one of the most solemn and poignant worship services I’ve ever attended—and to share it as a community makes it even more powerful.”
The Rehoboth Beach Christmas parade and World AIDS Day have coincided only once before, but the coincidence provides an opportunity for greater outreach. “We would love to have a large number of walkers in the parade this year because it is a great opportunity to focus attention on World AIDS Day,” says Murray Archibald, CAMP Rehoboth Board President. He encourages those who want to participate to wear as much red as possible and gather on State Street in downtown Rehoboth between 5:45 and 6:00 p.m. on December 1 (look for the World AIDS Day banners). Candles are being supplied by Walgreens. Other sponsors include Epworth United Methodist Church, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Delaware HIV Consortium, AIDS Delaware, the Cape Gazette, MCC Rehoboth, and Walgreens.
The global theme of World AIDS Day is Getting to Zero, which refers to the twin goals of zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. Locally, CAMP Rehoboth is focusing on the iconic red ribbon and using the theme Ribbons of Love to explore the way HIV/AIDS connects people. Globally, an estimated 34 million people have HIV. More than 35 million people have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history. Thanks to scientific advancements, people with HIV can now live longer before they develop AIDS; however, many people don’t know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV. Stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV.
“Part of World AIDS Day is remembering persons we lost to the disease,” says Glen Pruitt, event co-chair. “As we honor their memory, we celebrate who they were as individuals. It reminds us how far we have come in dealing with HIV/AIDS, and challenges us to work even harder until we live in a world with no new HIV infections, in a world with a cure for AIDS.”
To have the name of a family member or friend who has died from AIDS added to the list of names to be read at the service, call the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center at 302-227-5620, or email Steve Elkins. More information on World AIDS Day.