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Hope Walks Davis provides funding for HIV-infected Indian children

Volunteers to walk one mile in Arroyo Park

By Geoff Johnson, Aggie Interim City Editor
The California Aggie, Wednesday October 24, 2007.

This Sunday marks the first Hope Walks Davis, a charity walk wherein participants are sponsored to walk one mile. Proceeds help provide medicine for HIV-infected Indian children, said UC Davis associate researcher Koen Van Rompay, whose Davis-based nonprofit Sahaya International is collaborating with Hope Walks.

Van Rompay, who has been researching AIDS for 17 years, said one of the biggest issues in India is getting medication to rural areas. "In India, if a child meets certain criteria, the government provides free medication, but the child still has to travel to the city." A six-to-seven-hour bus trip to the city costs only $7 but the children often travel with grandparents who make as little as $10 a month. Because of conditions like these, less than 10 percent of
HIV-positive children in developing countries receive medical attention, Van Rompay said.

Proceeds from the event will also pay for food and other medical needs for orphaned Indian children. Becoming involved with the event is straightforward, Van Rompay said. Although Hope Walks accepts direct donations, it's easy for anyone to sign up for the walk using its website, hopewalks.org/davis, and the length of the walk was chosen so the event would be accessible to anyone.

"It's just a short walk," Van Rompay said. "That way small children can do it, also older people in wheelchairs. After you register and make a webpage, then you just look for sponsorship."

In addition to the walk itself, activities and games will offer education on the issue of AIDS in
developing countries, he said. Prizes will be awarded to children that can in turn be exchanged for dimes
to be donated to Hope Walks. "We teach the kids you can make a difference, even though we are so far removed from children in India," Van Rompay said. "Each of us can make a difference with our small steps."

The Cal Aggie Christian Association, a nonprofit spiritual organization based just off campus, has been
helping to promote the event, said Reverend Greg McGonigle. The group has been in contact with Van Rompay since last spring, he said, and was asked to help promote the upcoming walk. Not only did the association agree to host tables publicizing the event and promote Hope Walks through the Davis Community Church and the Davis United Methodist Church, but McGonigle himself and the CACA director will be walking, McGonigle said.

"The thing that I think is really great for the Hope Walk, is it's kind of a limited commitment," he said.
"Most of the students have very demanding academic schedules; they're involved in sports [or] they're
involved in campus ministry.… It's hard to make a commitment to community service."

To register for Hope Walks Davis or to learn more, go to hopewalks.org/davis. Online registration ends
today, and late registration begins at 1 p.m. Sunday at Arroyo Park. Hope Walks Davis will be held in
Arroyo Park from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.


© Copyright 2007 The California Aggie



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