Combatting AIDS in New Paltz

The Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority (AEPhi) is hosting its 10th annual AIDS walk Sunday, April 3 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Elting Gym to support the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).

Elizabeth Glaser and one of the co-founding chairs of EGPAF Susan Bernstein-Zeeger, are alumni of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority, said AEPhi philanthropy committee chair Liana Messina.

Alpha Epsilon Phi began working for the foundation in 2000. Glaser contracted HIV through a blood transfusion in 1981 while she was giving birth to her daughter; she passed the virus  through her breast milk. Since there were no drugs approved for children to help them fight the battle, her daughter died from AIDS in 1994. Glaser later passed the virus on to her son through her uterus. Glaser created the Pediatric Aids Foundation in order to raise money for kids with HIV/AIDS in hopes to save her son’s life, said Kelly Cutrone, AEPhi Assistant for the Philanthropy Committee.

“To commemorate her, the foundation was renamed the EGPAF that we know of today,” said Cutrone.

The sisters of AEPhi believe it is important for students and community members to get involved with the walk.

“It brings people together for the same cause and is a great bonding experience” said Leah Hechtman, a member of the philanthropy committee.

This is the first year the sorority has a website promoting the walk. In past years, most participants would show up for the walk the day of the event.

“I think it’s a great chance for people to give back. Not everyone takes out time in their day to do something that benefits another person or group of people,” said Hechtman.

The AIDS walk will begin at noon and participants are welcome to meet at Elting Gym for brunch at 11:30 a.m. The walk will take place on campus and on Main Street for a little more than a mile. After the walk everyone will meet up and raffle off prizes, said Cutrone.

Fundraising has been done on the website and more events are being planned by the sisters. Loose change has been collected as well.

“We also do this project every spring and each year seems to get better and better. It shows us that anything is possible and it makes us more and more proud each time around,” said Hechtman.

The overall fundraising goal is $3,000; as of right now they have met more than half of their goal at $2,296.

Messina hopes participants and donors will learn about a cause they were never aware of prior to this event.

“This semester has opened my eyes to EGPAF and the remarkable work they continue to do,” said Messina. “I really hope that others understand how much their money will truly be appreciated by those in need. And, of course I hope that others will have a great time.”

To donate money or learn more about the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation visit the Alpha Epsilon Phi fundraising site at