It was on your mark, get set, and go watch for many residents of the Austin community last Saturday, when a 5-mile walk/run/bike ride left LaFollette Park for Garfield Park.

The Let’s Talk, Let’s Test Foundation, founded by state Rep. Constance A. Howard is the only African-American-sponsored HIV/AIDS walk in the United States. The event began with a short ceremony, hosted by Lloyd Kelly, director of the foundation. Kelly acknowledged many of the various partners, such as the Mayor’s Office, WVON Radio, Seaway Bank, Best Buy, Chicago State University, Community Insurance, Illinois State Lottery and the foundation’s staff.

Representing Dorothy Brown, clerk of the Circuit Court, Ann Smith, assistant chief deputy Clerk, said, “We have been participating now for five years. This is one of the clerk’s passions. Certainly HIV/AIDS is a main concern of our community and it’s a main concern of the clerk. We are happy to partner today with Rep. Connie Howard, with Lloyd and with the Let’s Talk, Let’s Test Foundation.”

Walgreen’s District Manager Darren Benton also congratulated the foundation for their work.

The Illinois State Lottery representative told all participants they would receive a Red Ribbon Cash instant ticket, which pays up to $ 20,000, upon arrival at Garfield Park. She explained that 100 percent of the proceeds of this ticket would go to fund HIV/AIDS education services for the patients of Illinois. So far the lottery has given more than $500,000 toward HIV research.

Also participating (riding their bikes) were Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Harris, proprietors of the only black-owned food store, Chatham Foods, in the state. Last week Mr. Harris announced that he and his wife would be selling the store. However, they will be involved in some new ventures.

AWN asked Lloyd Kelly if this was the foundation’s first event on the West Side. “That’s an interesting story,” he said. When we did the first one, we did it on the South Side. So when we reached out to someone on the West Side, they said, ‘You never do anything.’ We said we already got everything locked in, but if you help us this year we’ll alternate every year. So we are on the West Side this year.”

Kelly said the event would end with a big celebration and concert. Headlining the concert were Chicago natives, the Chi-Lites. Other artists were Kim Stratton, Youn Jock, DJ Unk, Three Piece, Crucial Conflict, Do or Die, Lee Lee, Swinga, Jack Daniels, Tre D, L.E.P. and Jr. Dot.

Foundation facts

For more information on the Let’s Talk, Let’s Test Foundation, call 773/821-2795 or you can register online at