LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — After a long hiatus in the COVID-19 era, the AIDS Walk is returning this Saturday, Sept. 30–for the first time since 2019.

Registration for the AIDS Walk starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, at Edgewood United Church of Christ in East Lansing, at 469 N. Hagadorn Road. The walk starts at 11 a.m.

Though many have planned ahead to walk the route and have raised money, Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN) Executive Director Kristina Schmidgall said you don’t have to be pre-registered or have raised money. “People can just show up and register,” Schmidgall said.

“The AIDS Walk is an essential fundraising initiative to provide supplemental funding in providing services and support for our communities,” said Schmidgall. “The needs are great – from housing to utility support to addressing food insecurity to providing stable effective and culturally sensitive behavioral and mental health support, LAAN is doing more than ever with fewer government dollars.”

Emily Dievendorf, Democratic state representative for State House District 77 and this year’s LAAN Community Champion, will lead this year’s walk. Sistrum and LanSINGout choirs will provide entertainment while walkers and supporters are waiting. Local nonprofits will have vendors on site. After the walk, there will be a light lunch.

The route for the walk will begin at Edgewood United. Walkers will head south on Hagadorn, then take a right on Grand River Avenue, a right on Kedzie, a right on Albert and then a left on Hagadorn, eventually ending up back the church. The total route is 2 miles.

Though the walk serves to raise funds through walkers’ sponsorship and from local businesses, a lot of it is about visibility for the community, Schmidgall said. “We’re trying to raise some money as well, but a lot of it is just being together,” she said.

Though different cities across Michigan used to traditionally coordinate to do their local AIDS walk on the same day each year, “Lansing is the last place to do the walk,” said Schmidgall. Other cities have adopted different fundraising events, but Lansing is the stronghold for the AIDS Walk tradition, and it’s been going on for more than 20 years.

Founded in 1985, LAAN serves Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Montcalm and Shiawassee counties. More than 650 people in the Lansing area are living with HIV, 70% of whom are Lansing residents. You can find more information about the organization’s services here.