Mark Brown

Walking to End Pediatric AIDS

Mark Brown, a sought-after family photographer in Chicago, Ill., became involved in EGPAF after a planned AIDS bicycle ride to Milwaukee was cancelled. Looking to get involved in the fight against AIDS, Brown learned about AIDS Walk in South Africa organized by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF).

“I had gotten all of those pledges,” says Brown. “I felt that I wanted to do something with the money.”

The experience transformed Brown. Besides raising funds to support EGPAF programs, Brown received an on-the-ground education in AIDS prevention and treatment and made lifelong friends among fellow walkers and many of the people he met along the route. In 2007, Brown embarked on another AIDS Walk in Tanzania.

“When I think about the fact that more than 1 million children have been born without HIV in Africa, in large part because of Elizabeth Glaser’s mission to end pediatric AIDS, I am even more pleased that I could have been a part of that,” says Brown as he reflects on EGPAF’s 25th anniversary. These photos are some of Brown’s keepsake from his 2004 AIDS Walk Africa.

When an AIDS bicycle ride from Chicago, Ill., to Milwaukee, Wisc., in 2004 was abruptly cancelled, Mark Brown, a family photographer in Chicago, took a bold step and signed up for AIDS Walk Africa, sponsored by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). Photo: Mark Brown.

Brown and 30 other walkers embarked on a 100-mile trek through the heart of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. At that time, nearly 2,000 infants were born with HIV each day in sub-Saharan Africa. Photo: Mark Brown.

“Seeing the reaction of children was the most joyful experience,” says Brown about his interactions with hundreds of children along the route. “I saw inspiration. I saw that there could be change.” Photo: Mark Brown.

AIDS Walkers covered about ten miles per day. Photo: Mark Brown.

Brown and his fellow walkers stop in communities along the way and met healthy children, the fruit of EGPAF’s mission. Photo: Mark Brown.

Some of Brown’s friends asked why he was helping people around the world when people right in Chicago were suffering. “There was a need for it, though,” says Brown. “The need around the world was more so than in the United States.” Photo: Mark Brown.

“I feel this overwhelming connection,” says Brown about his fellow walkers. “Some of the closest people in the world to me I met through the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Photo: Mark Brown.

“When I talk about it I get so excited,” says Brown. It was “a physical and emotional journey.” Photo: Mark Brown.

During the walk, Brown met Florence Ngobeni-Allen, a woman living with HIV who had lost her daughter and first husband to AIDS. Photo: Mark Brown.

Mark was happily surprised to see Ngobeni-Allen again at EGPAF’s Global Impact Awards in February 2013. “Now she’s an EGPAF ambassador. She got married again. She has two healthy children.” Photo: courtesy Mark Brown.

“Everybody wants not only to donate money but also to volunteer and do something,” says Brown. “And as cliché as it sounds, when you give it comes back to you.” Photo: Mark Brown.