In the next couple of weeks, we will bring you the stories of the wonderful Scotiabank AIDS Walk supporters. We will let them explain why they are helping the cause with fundraising, donating or volunteering for the event. Read below Zander’s story.
Zander Fitzgerald is a volunteer for our Scotiabank AIDS Walk committee, a wonderful group of people who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make the event a success. This year will be Zander’s third participation in the Walk as a member of the MAC Cosmetics team, where he works as an Assistant Store Manager.
He wanted to get involved and help the cause after a previous boyfriend had told him he was living with HIV. Zander still remembers the day when the conversation took place. “I found out about my ex being HIV positive three years ago. As soon as I learned more about that, I became very passionate about this work. There is such a stigma attached to HIV and that really bothers me. People aren’t educated enough and, when it came to volunteer for the Walk, I saw it as an opportunity to get myself involved and get as educated as possible,” Zander explains.
Before dating a person living with HIV, Zander admits he didn’t know much about HIV. The way his friend felt, how hard it was to tell him, struck a chord in him. “As far as being gay and coming out, I know how uncomfortable and hard it is to have a conversation like that, when you think ‘what if I tell them and they will see me differently.” Three years later, Zander is happy to see his ex at a point where HIV doesn’t define him anymore. Stigma is something that shouldn’t exist and define the way we see people either, Zander adds. “It’s not common cold, he’s not going to cough and you’ll catch it,” says Zander when talking about the importance of HIV education offered by HIV Community Link.
Zander has been an ambassador for the Walk for his coworkers at MAC. His company is going to match their staff’s donations to the Scotiabank AIDS Walk. He wanted to show people they are very involved, so he managed to get MAC gift donations for the Walkers’ bags. “We have 10 stores in the city; our goal is to have 25 to 30 people from our stores registered. We always have a large team, everyone is bringing someone with them, and a lot of dogs too. We’ll be there again with our World AIDS Day shirts to show what we stand for,” says Zander.
There is still a lot of work to be done in Calgary for the cause, he thinks. “As with the LGTBQ community, it would be nice to show this smaller group of people that they are not forgotten, and make them feel included.” He encourages everybody to join this Walk and support with fundraising. “Get registered. The day of the Walk is very fun. There’s entertainment, there’s Starbucks coffee; everybody is talking and making connections. It’s a community, it’s like family. Come and be a part of raising awareness and help the bigger purpose.”
You too can register and fundraise for the Scotiabank AIDS Walk Calgary at scotiabankaidswalk.ca/calgary. Join us today and make a difference!