Education, fellowship cited as reasons for turnout to Grand Strand AIDS Walk 2001



MYRTLE BEACH — Members of the St. Michael Church AIDS Ministry Team joined forces with several groups that walked down the Grand Strand coast Sept. 22 as part of AIDS Walk 2001, sponsored through Careteam, an outreach program for HIV-positive clients serving Horry and Georgetown counties.

For the fourth year, Franciscan Sister Isabel Haughey, pastoral associate at St. Michael’s in Garden City, led members of the parish’s AIDS outreach team at the event.

“We are very devoted to our AIDS ministry that we have at St. Michael’s, and this is a way of supporting the Careteam and their work since they are the ones who refer our clients, our friends,” she said.

About 20 people are involved with those efforts at St. Michael’s, and they are currently assisting four clients.

“Our main focus is spiritual support, but, of course, psychological support (is provided also), and if there are any particular individual needs, then we meet those too,” said Sister Haughey. “We really walk with our clients, whom we call friends.

The nun stressed the importance of educating people about the AIDS epidemic, citing the walk as one step in achieving that goal.

She was pleased as well with the turnout at the event. “I think it really supports the fact that we are beginning to understand that we are all brothers and sisters in the human condition, and we need to support each other no matter where we are or what we are doing.”

Geoff Garvey, along with his wife, lead the AIDS outreach team at St. Michael’s. He said that the Myrtle Beach fund raiser was important for a couple of reasons.

“Mainly it is for us to get together, and secondly it is for the awareness of AIDS. It is on the increase. Everybody thinks that it has died down, and it has not. More and more it is getting to our young people, between 18 and 24, and heterosexuals and females, where as before it was not regarded that way,” he said.

Joan Cato, pastoral associate of St. James Church in Conway, walked with her daughter and two of her friends as the wind created whitecaps on the Atlantic Ocean

“I’m thrilled that this is happening, and I am thrilled that there are so many colors here,” she said. “It’s a small step in a very great problem.”

Elise Cato, 15, replied, “It’s a very good event.”

Among the walkers were several students from Horry-Georgetown Technical College and Coastal Carolina University, which has a very active Catholic youth group.

Roy Bullard wore a large smile as he watched the St. Michael’s group from the second floor of Gore & Bullard hairstylists, a salon of which he is part-owner. He visited the church on a special mission the following night.

“I’m going to speak to the youth group at St. Michael’s,” he said. “I’m going to talk about HIV and the fact that I am HIV-positive and try to educate the youth. I basically talk about abstinence and let them meet somebody who is HIV-positive. And if they have any questions, I’ll answer them.”

He learned he was HIV-positive five years ago. “I have a very positive support group. I have a lot of good friends and family. I think everything happens for a purpose. Instead of being a bitter and unhappy person, I’ve tried to turn it around and make something very positive out of it.”