The world's first AIDS Walk was developed by Craig R. Miller in 1984, during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Seeing the need for immediate action in response to this public-health emergency, Miller sought to fill the void left by the government's negligible response to the crisis. Drawing on his experience as a political and community organizer, Miller's approach combined grassroots activism with fundraising and other campaign strategies to raise both awareness and urgently needed funds for the fight against AIDS.
Miller brought his idea to the fledgling AIDS service organization, AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), who hired the young activist to produce this new event.
Miller and APLA expected to draw a crowd of 1,000 supporters and raise $100,000 for this very first AIDS Walk. On July 28, 1985 in Los Angeles, 4,500 courageous and visionary people assembled at Paramount Studios and raised an astonishing $673,000.
In the following years, AIDS Walk Los Angeles would become the largest AIDS fundraising event in California, bringing 30,000 participants together annually to fight HIV/AIDS. The event raises millions each year for APLA, helping it provide vital services to thousands living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles, and run the county's largest network of prevention programs.
The event serves as a model of grassroots fundraising and community activism for organizations across the United States.