Meet a dedicated AIDS fund raiser

If there were ever one word to describe Ted Hobart, dedication would be it.  Hobart is the outreach coordinator for Whitman-Walker Clinic’s AIDS Walk Washington, a charity 5K run and walk in downtown D.C. As an avid AIDS activist, Hobart takes his campaigning very seriously; he sits in the Tavern dining hall at American University Friday at a small table surrounded by flyers and hand-outs advertising the big event three months before it is set to take place.

“Most things do not get going here until September,” Hobart says. But the campaigning begins far earlier. American University has been the top fund raising university for AIDS Walk for the past five years. This title has led American University to become the “model citizen” for the fund raising community  of AIDS Walk Washington.

“In 2006, I really saw that the clinic was doing outreach,” Hobart says.When Hobart heard that the University’s students wanted to participate, he quickly opened the door. “The Women’s Student Initiative Group strongly wanted [AIDS Walk] here [at American]. It seemed like a natural fit,” he adds. The official American University AIDS Walk team began in 2007. Previously, various student groups from around campus would send their own teams, but they were all independent of one another. Now, the team is comprised of students from different organizations or even no organization at all. In fact, AU’s Senior University Center Director, Michael Elmore, has included joining the team as one of the top 151 things to do as an American student.

To keep this impressive run continuing, Hobart begins to target American students well before classes begin. As the rising freshman class toured the campus with their parents and friends during their two day orientation, they stopped by the tavern for a welcoming lunch. Hobart sat waiting and willing to talk to them. Targeting incoming freshman is an important part of Hobart’s campaign. In addition to walking or running the 5K, AIDS Walk provides volunteer opportunities for the students. “This is something you can do in the community,” he campaigns. The volunteering and getting tested to learn your AIDS status is mainly what Hobart advertises to the incoming class during summer.

However, summer always brings a far less responsive crowd. “One way to prevent HIV is safe sex. No teenager wants to talk safe sex with their parents around,” Hobart laughs. So the traffic to his table is little. Yet still, Hobart waits patiently. He explains that far more students will stop by when he campaigns in the fall, noting that September is the month when things really start to get rolling.

“I feel like I practically live here,” Hobart jokes. AIDS Walk Washington takes place in the first weekend of October, leaving the majority of the campaigning to take place in September. Hobart’s dedication to AIDS Walk leaves him with little time for himself before the race, but  he does not mind. He continues to work on the campaign, raising funds and reeling in people to participate.

The passion he feels for the AIDS cause is his motivator. Hobart wants the people to be informed.  He strongly believes that the more people who know about this epidemic, the better off the  community will be. He is dedicated to informing the public. So much so, that he sits alone at a hardly acknowledged table in a dinning hall of American University hoping that just one person learns more about the AIDS epidemic and how they can help.

If you are interested, and live in or around the D.C. area, call 202-332-WALK(9255) or log onto www.aidswalkwashington.org for more information. If you are not from the D.C. area, contact local city hall for information on charity walks and runs in your city.

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