RAIN holds 18th Annual Salute to Life Walk

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COLUMBIA - RAIN Central Missouri, which stands for Regional AIDS Interfaith Network, held it's 18th annual Salute to Life Walk Sunday afternoon. Walkers paraded down 8th Street in downtown Columbia to raise AIDS awareness.

"It also allows us the chance to honor those who've lost their battle to aids and those who are still battling the disease," said Cale Mitchell, RAIN executive director.

They walked from MU's columns to the historic columns downtown holding AIDS awareness flags. David Vandyke, a RAIN volunteer, thought the flags were an important part.

"To demonstrate a little more publicly support for AIDS and HIV, for those who suffer from it," Vandyke said.

The flags are symbolic as they are the same size as the AIDS memorial quilt, which is now over 1.2 million square feet. The funds raised at the event support the continuation of RAIN's free HIV, STD, and Hepatitis C testing and client services.

"We connect them with health care, medication, safe, stable housing, utility assistance, food assistance, prevention education and testing," said Mitchell.

But the event was about more than raising money.

"It's not a huge money maker," said Mitchell.

It's about raising awareness.

"I like a little more public event, to be able to walk down the street carrying the big flags," said Vandyke. "There's not a lot of people that see it, but some do."