SEATTLE — Braving windy, rainy weather that cut electricity to hundreds of customers around Western Washington, about 2,500 people raised more than $500,000 in the city’s annual AIDS Walk.
Participants squished soggy leaves and tried to avoid puddles Sunday along a five-mile loop from the Seattle Center to Westlake Mall in the downtown retail core and back.
The event is the biggest annual fund-raiser for the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, which provides nutrition, counseling, housing, transportation, education and emergency assistance for 8,400 AIDS patients around the state.
"I know Seattleites are used to bad weather, but this was above and beyond the call of duty," said Deborah Edison, the group’s development director.
Rod Brown, 50, who has participated in the event from its inception in 1987, said he was disappointed after seeing as many as 10,000 walkers in past years.
"It may be weather. I don’t think it’s an issue of people not caring, but I do think people are distracted and busy," Brown said. "But AIDS hasn’t gone away. My message would be: ‘Don’t forget us.’ "
Puget Sound Energy officials reported about 2,500 homes and businesses in King, Thurston, Whatcom, Kitsap and Jefferson counties without power Sunday night because of winds gusting as high as 41 mph.
About 2,000 of the customers in the dark were in the suburbs east of Seattle, especially Redmond, the Eastgate area of Bellevue and Mercer Island, spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken said.
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