Many walkers, runners, bikers and horseback riders took part in the second annual Esk’etemc AIDS Walk held Saturday, April 21.
Participants of all ages set off (from near the Esk’etemc Rodeo grounds) at 9 a.m. precisely on the seven-kilometre journey back to the main reserve at Alkali Lake on a perfect sunny Saturday morning.
Hosted by the Esk’etemc Health Department, the walk was planned in the hope it would serve as an opportunity to get some exercise (it did), have some fun (yes, indeed) and make a difference in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS (you can only hope).
There is no doubt that the seven kilometres was a breeze for some, a good hike for many and a struggle for a few.
Jahpa Belleau was the first finisher. He ran all the way and left the rest of the group trailing considerably behind in his wake — George Johnson was the second runner to finish.
Bert Johnson of Dog Creek — an elder — also ran most of the seven kilometres as did Henry (Hank) Johnson, Charlie (Chuck) Johnson, Frankie Robbins and Alec Chelsea, among others.
Alexander Stevens and his youngest daughter, Kendra, rode horseback with Kendra shyly smiling for pretty much the whole seven-kilometre journey. She was so thrilled to be riding alongside her dad.
Several other walkers from Dog Creek joined the group; Martina Camille, her daughter and grandchild (in a stroller) among them.
The participants were all walking for different reasons; some to honour family/friends lost to HIV/AIDS, some to honour/celebrate cancer survival/loss and many just in support, or for the exercise and the social aspect of the day.
Signs along the route (kilometre markers) each had HIV/AIDS information posted upon them.
The participants were rewarded at the end of the trail, with a delicious breakfast of French toast, whipped cream, berries and more, served at the Esk’etemc Youth Centre. The meal was followed by a frank informative talk about HIV/AIDS (how to avoid contracting the disease, preventative measures, etc.) given by Esk’etemc Community Health Nurse, Stella Nilsson. Her talk was followed by several games, such as “pass the condom” (which was the cause of great hilarity), in which prizes were won in addition to door prize draws in which all of the walk participants were eligible, all organized by Margaret Samson (Esk’etemc AIDS representative).
It was an enjoyable day with a worthwhile purpose/cause, appreciated by all who attended.