By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 30 2009 5:35 PM ET

It’s that time of year again. AIDS Walk Los Angeles takes place on October 18, 2009, and the Gang of 100 is out to kick some fund-raising ass again. And this year, more than ever, it is essential that we walk. I am not exaggerating when I say that California state budget cuts and a decline in charitable donations to AIDS organizations are causing a crisis in HIV health care, prevention, and services in Los Angeles County.

So this year we want you to walk with us.

The Gang of 100 started a few years ago with a couple of simple ideas -- that together we are more effective than we are as individuals, and that fund-raising is supposed to be fun. The Gang of 100 is a grassroots group that raises money for a wide range of charities in our community: from APLA to the Trevor Project; from the Point Foundation to Heal the Bay. And AIDS Walk is one of the cornerstone events of our year. We have raised more than $300,000 at AIDS Walk in only three years, and all because we got together with friends and decided that we could do it.

More than ever, the clients of AIDS Project Los Angeles need us now.

I serve on the board of directors of APLA, so I have been closely following both the HIV state budget cuts and the drop in charitable donations. And it is the scariest time in my memory for HIV service providers in Los Angeles.
 
I was not around for the early days when HIV first hit our
community, but since I have been involved, I have not seen anything
like this. The number of budget cuts that have already happened is
staggering. The governor has cut $80 million from California’s HIV/AIDS
portfolio, which will decimate services including many lifesaving
programs at APLA. California now has only 20% of its previous funding for
programs addressing HIV education, prevention, counseling, and testing.

So,
needless to say, APLA needs the Gang of 100 again at AIDS Walk. And we
need your support. For the past two years we have been the number 1
fund-raising team, beating out all of the huge corporate teams. We came
out of nowhere to become an integral part of AIDS Walk, and therefore a
huge part of providing HIV services in Los Angeles.













So please consider
being a part of our effort. Anyone is welcome to join our team. We have
the most fun of any team on the walk; I’m not going to lie. You’ll meet
some amazing people and make new friends that you will have for life.

If
you can’t walk with us, then please consider donating. We are the
ultimate grassroots team -- no corporate funding, just a bunch of guys
and girls reaching out to their friends and family.

And do you know
the big lesson that I have learned in the past few years? That I belong
to the most amazing community in the world, and that all you have to do
is ask. So, I’m asking.

Walk with us. Help us reach our $125,000 goal.

And since I think that the people who donate are the coolest people on the
planet…here’s an incentive for sponsors in Los Angeles. If you donate $150 to my page, you will be on my VIP list for my weekly events
during the upcoming year. Charitable giving is the only guarantee of
staying on my list for the whole year.

Click here to donate. I hope to see you on October 18.

Sincerely,

Tom