Government officials, community leaders, Las Vegas performers, local celebrities and 8,500 Las Vegas locals arrived all in one place on April 17. This could only mean one thing…Aid for AIDS of Nevada’s annual AIDS Walk. After weeks of prepping for an event that people raved about, I had to say my expectations were set quite high for the 2011 Walk. To my surprise, the Walk turned out to be much more than I expected!  Phenomenal performances by Las Vegas’ elite, quality sponsors from the community and an amazing staff that worked ruthlessly to create a spectacular event.

The morning started with an early arrival to the seemly destitute parking lot covered in tents. Within a half hour, hundreds of supporters began filling the venue, electrifying the area into a full-fledge celebration. Walkers perused through sponsor booths, enjoying Mexican small places from Rubio’s, and spinning a giant prize wheel at the QVegas tent. My teammate Alison and I melted at the sight of everything fluffy and furry as dogs seemed to be just as common as humans at this event.

9:00 a.m. hit and local news personality, Chris Saldana kicked of the morning by introducing the Vegas Glee Club, leaving the audience speechless with their impressive remediation of Bon Jovi’s Livin on a Prayer and Bonnie Tyler’s Holdin Out for A Hero. The crowd erupted when the next performance was announced and inched as close   to the stage as allowed. Highly recognizable by their white masks, the Jabbawockeez’s were mind blowing as the men robotically moved across the stage to their mixed track. By the end of their alluring five minute performance, I found myself planning a date to see their entire show at the Monte Carlo.  

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Various politicians took the stage thanking not only AFAN for its dedication to the city but for the community’s efforts.  The entertainment lineup progressed as another Las Vegas resident prepared for their first AIDS Walk performance. The Jersey Boys sang a collaboration of songs from their famous strip production which meshed perfectly with the event, leaving the crowd screaming “Walk!”

Penn & Teller closed the opening ceremony by thanking participants that joined the Penn & Teller Challenge as well as giving the crowd a few laughs. The duo made their way to the start line taking the first few steps as grand marshals then the barriers were removed and thousands of walkers joined in. Local celebrities, Holly Madison and Josh Strickland we spotted among the crowd, walking in honor of Josh’s team Strickly Strollin. I can truly say this Sunday morning was the perfect combination of excitement and celebration for an amazing cause here in Southern Nevada!

My final thoughts – sunscreen. This Minnesota girl takes the hue of red to a new level and will be packing SPF for next year’s festivities.

Photo Credit:  © Erik Kabik/ RETNA/