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Walgreens under
fire from antigay group

Walgreens under
fire from antigay group

The Walgreens drug store chain is the latest corporation to come under fire by an Illinois Christian group for sponsoring the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday. The Illinois Family Institute is angry that Walgreen Co. has made a $100,000 contribution to the Games, which are set for July. The group wants the company to take back its money--or face a boycott. "The Gay Games are about homosexuality, and I think it's wrong for Walgreens to sponsor it," Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute, told the Tribune. "They've taken the step of becoming an official sponsor, which is putting the Walgreens name to endorsing this event." The institute has also attacked Harris Bank and Kraft Foods for each contributing $25,000 to the Games, according to the newspaper. However, Walgreens officials are not budging. Spokesman Michael Polzin told the Tribune that the company is taking part in the Games to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. The company's pharmacists have been serving HIV-positive patients since the early 1980s. "Each year we raise millions of dollars in our stores for research education and building awareness for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer," he told the newspaper. "This is one way of giving back to the community." More than 10,000 athletes are expected to compete in the Games before an estimated 100,000 spectators. Chicago Games Inc. has been scrambling to raise the $9 million needed to hold the event, the newspaper reported. Games officials say they are nearly halfway to their goal of raising $1 million from corporate sponsors. "They keep doing this, and corporate America keeps coming," Tracy Baim, co-vice chair of Chicago Games, told the newspaper. "When we meet with [potential] sponsors, we are very up-front with being targeted by the IFI. It brings a higher visibility to the discrimination we face." (Chad Graham, Advocate.com)

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