AIDSWalk New York 2015.
Yes, you could feel the love.
As a photographer, I wanted to cover the faces and people that would be a part of AIDSWalk New York this year because it was one of the largest Central Park events of the year and I wanted to cover a great cause that reflected the diversity of this great City.
What I did not expect was the outpouring of love and joy that would surround me throughout the hours of this beautiful day.
For some, it was a wonderful stroll through the park. For other, with walking canes, crutches and other physical challenges, it was a true commitment to a struggle and a dream – ending AIDS in our lifetimes.
And as overwhelming as the attendance was, as I walked along the path, it was clear to me that the unfolding story really was about those that could not be there. Those to whose memories they walked, some with sadness, others with smiles on their face knowing that their presence might hopefully ensure that others would not have to leave us too early ever again.
There was Wanda, who died in 1998. Her memory has been represented here for 19 consecutive years. The young man carrying the image of her memory hopes that this and walks like it will drive the awareness that protection is key in combating the continued spread of AIDS.
Then there was Michael Elias Rosa who died only two years ago, in 2013. His family would like to see a heightened sense of community awareness through education become a driving force to eradicate AIDS, a disease that now currently effects the African-American and minority communities more disproportionately than in the past.
There were more, many more stories. Too many.
AIDSWalk New York was a tribute to the memories of those taken too soon from us – lives not fully lived, but fully loved.