Flo Rida

The 2018 Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival – an annual 5K walk to raise funds for HIV/AIDS services throughout Florida – will gather over 2,000 participants and feature a performance by multi-award winning recording artist Flo Rida.  Scheduled for Sunday, March 18, on beautiful Fort Lauderdale Beach, Flo Rida will perform a 90-minute concert immediately following the annual Florida AIDS walk. Hosted by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, and presented by AHF Pharmacy, a national chain of pharmacies supporting US & global HIV care, the Florida AIDS walk is a highly anticipated event aimed at increasing South Florida’s awareness, prevention, and treatment efforts against the spread of HIV.

An American rapper, singer and composer, originally from Carol City, Florida, since launching his career in 2008, with his breakout single “Low”, Flo Rida has been a staple in the top 10 of the U.S. music charts. This internationally acclaimed artist has sold over 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists. His catalog includes the international hit singles “Right Round”, “Club Can’t Handle Me”, “Good Feeling”, “Wild Ones”, “Whistle”, “I Cry”, “G.D.F.R.”, and “My House”.

“We are incredibly excited to have Flo Rida joining us as the headline performer for the 2018 Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival,” said Michael Kahane, Southern Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “He has previously been involved with this event and was an amazing spokesperson in helping to both raise funds for our nine beneficiaries as well as raise awareness of the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on the South Florida community.  He will be a terrific conclusion for our 13th annual Florida AIDS Walk event.”

We took this opportunity to sit down with Michael and ask him a few questions:

(Photo by Jesus Aranguren/Invision for AIDS Healthcare Foundation/AP Images)

How many years were you working in the legal field?

I was working in that field for 21 years.

What made you leave the legal field to take the job at AHF?

The challenge to do something different and meaningful.

When joining AHF what were your goals and did you achieve them all?

I’m not sure I knew what my original goals were; I don’t think I fully understood the scope of the organization or the scope of the issues that AHF deals with on a routine basis.

My immediate goals were to make an impact on the virus in Florida, and to try to make a positive impact on the people who are living with HIV.

The geography I manage has grown significantly. I had no idea of the challenges that people living with HIV in other countries deal with. In addition, AHFs scope has expanded beyond HIV; we are now really more of a public health organization.

Who came up with the idea of Florida AIDS Walk and how long did it take from concept to event?

The AIDS Walk pre-dated me, but I can tell you when I joined it was called Fort Lauderdale AIDS Walk and we changed name to Florida AIDS Walk for a variety of reasons—most particularly because we have beneficiaries outside of ft. Lauderdale.

It has become a large community event and the beneficiaries are able to participate in the walk without being charged anything. They keep all the monies they raise with no expenses attached to it and AHF matches the monies raised.

Was the music festival always a part of it or did that get added on?

The music festival got added on around seven years ago. The reason was because we have this event Sunday morning, and many people had a lot of energy after the walk ends. It seemed very anti-climactic, therefore, we added this on to keep their energy going and have fun!

Is the festival everything AHF hoped for?

Yes, it’s grown every year. In addition, the beneficiaries have grown every year. The most rewarding aspect is to see how the beneficiaries are really getting involved and raising more money. To see agency’s going from $10,000 a year to $200,000 a years is amazing and totally rewarding for AHF.

What should the South Florida audiences expect from Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival 2018?

People should expect a great event. Every year we work hard to up the game and make the event better and more fun. We have new aspects this year, and Flo-Rida is one of the best entertainers we have ever had for the festival. He gets very involved with the crowd. He also cares deeply about HIV and its impact in Florida.

We are going to take over the beach, and make a lot of noise so everyone knows we are there and hears our message!

HIV/AIDS in Florida:

According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

  • Florida ranked 1st among the 50 states in the number of HIV diagnoses;
  • Three Florida cities, made the top 15 cities nationally, when it comes to number of people with HIV. Miami is at the top of the list, with Jacksonville and Orlando at the tenth and 11th spots, respectively; and
  • Miami-Dade and Broward counties ranked top in the nation of new HIV diagnosis.

Now in its 13th year, The Florida AIDS Walk & Music Festival has featured an array of award-winning artists, including Salt-N-Pepa, DNCE, The Go-Go’s, The B-52’s and Chaka Khan.  Annually, this impactful and fun-filled event, attracts a diverse array of groups and individual participants and raises over a million dollars to support local, non-profit agencies in south Florida that are working to address the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic plaguing the Broward and Miami-Dade communities.  The event helps to remind the community that HIV/AIDS is till impacting our community by increasing the community’s awareness, education, and prevention efforts all with the objective of reducing the spread of HIV.

Organizations benefiting from the 2018 event include:

SAVE, Sunshine Social Services, inc, The Poverello Center, The Pride Center at Equality Park, Latinos Salud, The World AIDS Museum and Educational Center, Pridelines, Oasis Florida and Urban League of Broward County.

Registration for the walk & music festival is available at Floridaaidswalk.org.