Less corporate, more community: Ça Marche this Sunday
There are fewer corporate donations coming in for the Farha Foundation’s annual Ça Marche AIDS walkathon this year, but that’s not stopping the participating teams and organizations from showing up and making a difference. Linda Farha spoke to us about the challenges and joys of this 20th year taking to the streets. (Photo by Neal Rockwell: the Head & Hands team will be dancing the walk for the fifth year in a row!)
- DJ Alberto: Hombre in the House
- This is How we do it: Ça Marche hits the streets this Sunday!
- World AIDS Day
“Ça Marche has been getting a lot of media coverage and gaining a lot of momentum,” says Foundation Board member and Ça Marche spokeswoman Linda Farha of this 20th year of fund-raising for AIDS charities in Québec. “In terms of the number of groups, it’s a lot less [than previous years], but we have a lot more individual donations online,” the elegant Ms. Farha told us while juggling calls at the Foundation’s office across from Place Émilie-Gamelin, where the walkathon will start on Sunday morning, September 30 at 10am (9am for sign-up and warm-up!).
Leading the pack in individual donations to Ça Marche is one group in particular, who are old friends of her brother’s, foundation namesake Ron Farha, who call themselves the 20 Years Later Group. “They have really rallied. Right now they’re at $28,000 for that one group,” Linda Farha says proudly. It’s individual commitments like this that make make up for the slight decline in corporate donations this year.
To compensate, and keep up the Ça Marche buzz in recent weeks, the Farha family has been spending a lot of time on social media, and getting local celebrities like Mutsumi Takahashi and other spokespeople to pour a hot cup at the downtown David’s Tea flagship store.
As part of this special 20th anniversary of Ça Marche, the Foundation is putting together a mural that will be unveiled on December 1 in honour of Ron Farha and everything Ça Marche has come to mean for the HIV/AIDS community. “It will be a commemorative piece that we’re auction off at Masquerade. “The mural is being done by people who post a message or upload a picture; it’s their testimonials and pictures that will make up the mural,” she explains. They plan to auction off the commemorative piece at their February Masquerade benefit gala.
The kids aren’t all right
Linda Farha is troubled to see that there are fewer school groups participating in the walk this year, because aside from raising money, the Foundation’s mission is to “to make people understand that this is a disease that is very current and very much present,” something that has been harder to do since the Charest government cancelled sex ed curricula in 2005. “It’s hard to mobilize [in] those schools unless you have somebody at the school to spearhead it,” she says, and ideally, that someone would be the teacher responsible for sex education.
Re-instituting sex ed programmes is something that she hopes the new government will do, even if the Foundation doesn’t devote any of its resources to lobbying. “Our mission is to fund-raise for the various organizations, we spend our time raising money to help people, and to prevent the spread of the disease,” she clarified.
With groups like Head & Hands walking (or dancing) in the event again this year, the fundraising aspect has gone in tandem with the awareness-raising. The NDG-based youth organization will be dancing to Carly-Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me, Maybe” and have posted a video for their walkers to learn the dance moves in advance. As of Thursday afternoon, their spunky team had already raised $13,600 of their $15,000 goal. The Farha Foundation’s walkathon funnels all of the money raised for the walk so that it can be redistributed to the organizations; donors can also ear-mark their pledges to go to a specific group, such as Head & Hands or ACCM.
Some groups, like AIDS ACTION NOW!‘s newly formed Montréal contingent, will be part of Ça Marche even though they haven’t raised money collectively. For their “Sashes Action” members will march the 7 kilometres of downtown streets wearing fabric sashes calling for an end to the criminalization of HIV non-disclosure.
“Of course it’s a fundraiser, but we love that people come out and have a sense of oneness; it’s important for us to get those numbers [of people] to come out, so that’s wonderful,” Linda Farha says welcomingly.
(Farha Foundation’s AIDSWalk)
Sunday, September 30, 9am (walk leaves at 10:30am)
Banner Photo by Neal Rockwell for Head & Hands