A walk to combat AIDS - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

NAACP and Delta Sigma Theta walk to combat AIDS

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Two local groups are fighting to combat war on AIDS. Members from the local chapter of the NAACP and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority laced up their shoes to help bring awareness to their cause. A 5-K walk to fight AIDs was held at Rotary Park in Columbus, Ga. on December 7, 2013.

Melode Thornton, a woman who has lived in Columbus for 12 years, lost her father to AIDS back in 1986. She helped out with many AIDs and HIV organizations in New York and other states, but Melode explained that this was only her second time participating in the walk.

"I didn't realize Columbus had this walk until last year," Melode said. "I'm glad to be a part of it, because I speak at this event. I tell my father's story in hopes to encouraging other people to get tested."

Melode said she never knew her father had AIDS until he passed away in 1986.

"Back in the 80's, people rarely told others that they were HIV positive," Melode explained. "That meant people avoided you. My father was 47 when he died. I knew he was sick. He was losing weight and showed symptoms, but he never told me he had AIDS."

However, Melode knew her father was struggling with something deadly. She said nurses left his tray of food outside of his room, because they were afraid of contracting virus from him.

"I didn't care. He was my father," Melode said. "I didn't know what he had until he passed away, but I fed him, I kissed him, I hugged him. He was my father. I wish he could have still told me. I wouldn't have run away."

Melode said seeing other AIDS survivors thrive and live for many years continue to motivate her to share her father's story. She wants people to know that drugs and treatment are available to combat AIDS.

"1986 has passed. 2014 is here," Melode said. "We can make a difference, so no other young girl has to have her father miss her wedding. Her mother will not have to miss her graduation. There is power in testimonies."

All donations collected from AIDS Awareness 5-K Walk was donated to the Ryan White Clinic a the Columbus Health Department to help patients.

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