The first of Autumn’s leaves crunch beneath his wheels as he rolls to a stop along the worn path in Cheesman Park. He rests, allowing his tired muscles some relief and closes his eyes as the morning sun rises over the Botanic Gardens, brigtening his weary face, kissing each wrinkle with warmth. With a deep breath, he embraces life’s brief moment of peace. Suddenly, in the distance his ears perk to the sound of excited chatter. Taking his cue, he settles into a corner of the park remaining visible, yet only as a looker-on. Reaching into his sack, he pulls out a freshly painted cardboard sign, holds it to his chest, and smiles.

A breeze sweeps over Cheesman Park, rustling the once still grass, and sending a slight chill down Therese’s spine. Excitedly chatting with her friends, she prepares for her third, maybe her fourth year, it doesn’t matter. Hundreds — no, thousands —  like her gather for the same reason — to show support and remember lost loved ones. Raising another impressive $3,000 for the AIDS Walk Colorado, she strides proudly through the 5k. In the distance, she spots a man, sitting eagerly in his wheelchair. He holds a sign that reads, “Thank you for walking because I no longer can.” As she passes him, they make eye contact and he beams back at her.

Seventeen years later, Therese Pocrnick remains inspired by this encounter and more motivated than ever to raise money and awareness for the AIDS Walk Colorado and the Denver Colorado AIDS project. In the past ten years she has raised over $30,000 for this cause. Tomorrow will mark her 17th year walking in honor of those living with AIDS and commemorating the lives of those lost to this disease.

The AIDS Walk Colorado celebrates its 25th anniversary in Denver with promiment speakers, live music, food and beverages. Participants will enjoy the music of Mullet Over and other entertaiment provided by the Diva Dash, Colorado Mammoth dance group Wild Bunch, and the third annual AIDS Walk Colorado Volleyball tournament. Event-goers will also view panels of the AIDS  Memorial Quilt — a moving and emotional experience.  

For more information on how to participate, please visit the AIDS Walk Colorado website.