Yesterday was perfect for the Scotiabank AIDS walk: not a cloud in the sky, warm enough that I didn’t sweat buckets and everyone smiling, working it for a great cause. I managed to crest $2500 in donations – mostly because of you people who come to read and mostly because I did it entirely by social media (aaaand a few donations from family, of course). If I haven’t thanked you personally, I apologize and thank you now. I thank all of you.
As expected, hundreds of pictures were taken and I made a bit of a splash in the pool of corporate teams that filled the walk. But know that I had to justify my presence a couple times.
Googley eyed woman: Why you a robot?
Me: I’m a Stormtrooper.
Googley eyed woman: Not a robot?
Me: No. I’m from the movie Star Wars?
Googley eyed woman: (to friends) Take my picture!
And so it went. One woman hesitantly asked me for a picture, “Because I find you scary.”
“I’m just me!” I say, obviously forgetting what I have on – the symbol of poor aim and jack-booted fear throughout the galaxy.
“I’m afraid because I want your gun in my mouth.” she said. Smiling.
At one point I took off the helmet to hydrate and a young woman ran up to me for a picture. She was wearing a metallic, bright Arabic scarf, thick horn rimmed glasses, tousled hair, and cut off shorts just at the knee. “Why are you in costume?”
“I’m bringing some nerd cred to the Walk. You should know, right?”
“I’m not a nerd!” Woops. Okay. Whatever.
Inside the suit you literally can’t see down. If you hold one flattened palm over your eyebrows and the other on the upper part of your cheek, that’s the range of vision I had, not to mention I wasn’t wearing my glasses. At one point I could hear a woman asking me for a picture and I kept turning around. And around. Until I heard “Down here!”. She was in a wheel chair and I nearly fell into her lap trying to find her.
The Walk itself was ok. I stumbled twice over some pylons down at Queen and Church, very embarrassing, but for the most part I made it OK. Two blisters and a dry mouth. Sharkboy says I was stumbling on the way home due to exhaustion/dehydration but I think it was an inner ear infection.
At home we sat through the news about how “Word On The Street” over in Queens Park was such a success despite the oncoming threat of the printed word by eReaders. This particular story got a full 2+ minutes with lots of cut away talking heads about how great books are. Then, after a ton of world news, the AIDS Walk got a full 20 second spot with a mere mention of why and a scattering of video of people walking. Granted, I was watching to see if I made it on the news but the shocking lack of news coverage depressed me.
I’m kind of bummed that HIV/AIDS is being relegated to the back burner even though it’s not gone away. It sickens me that big pharma has not released any significant 3rd generation drug patents into the wild for cheaper development, researcah and most importantly: distribution. The average cost of a monthly prescription for anti-retroviral medication runs from $900 to $1300 with insurance companies picking up a good portion of that tab (if the patient is lucky enough). Doing the math, that means at the low end of the cost for meds times all the HIV positive people in Canada adds up to roughly $230 million a year in meds alone.
I’m generalizing. But the fact can’t be ignored that HIV treatment is big money.
Over the last decade, HIV has been placed on the same public consciousness shelf as diabetes in terms of “manageable diseases” (did you know those glucose monitoring machines are literally given away for free, but the blood test strips run up to $1.50 each? Test your blood three times a day for a month and that adds up!). The fact that “cures” are dangled in front of our faces ever so often (that ultimately don’t pan out) makes it real hard for me not to put on my tin foil had and think that if they wanted to cure this disease, they could have years ago, but it’s now a profitable industry that can hardly be stopped overnight with a “Eureka!” discovery that halts AIDS in it’s tracks.
I know. I’m crazy. But after being on this planet for 46 years I know that money is the greatest motivator and when it’s flowing in at such an alarming, constant (gardener) rate, then turning off the stream is nearly impossible.
Now if you excuse me I have 9-11 EVP files to listen to.