NEW YORK CITY "AIDS" WALKS
On Sunday, May 18, 2003, some 45,000 people participated in the 18th Annual NYC Aids Walk, in which $4.8 million was raised to provide much needed services to men, women and children living with HIV and AIDS.
Sunday, May 16, 2004, saw an equally large number of walkers who raised $5,426,397.00 for the same worthy cause.
Trooper "Old Sarge" Oberon and Members of the Empire City Garrison took part in the 6.2 mile walk which proceeded north through the west side of Central Park, west on 110th Street, south on the Riverside Drive, east on 74th Street, to the finish back in Central Park. The members of the ECG and other Star Wars related costuming groups raised a total of $4,205.00 in 2003 and a similar amount in 2004 in support of the event.
Photos courtesy of Kevin "Lord Vader Zippy" Zabawa, Empire City Garrison, and Dion Rupa
For much of the distance, the Old Sarge led the way and set the pace for the forces of the Dark Side.
George Metz, "Old Sarge Oberon" TD124, Sergeant of Arms of Garrison Carida, along with Roger Olson (Vader), accompanied by troopers Christian Bontigao, Leon Clarence, of the Empire City Garrison, did the 6.2 mile walk in about 4 hours, with stops along the way for what seemed like hundreds of pictures with adoring kids, young and old. Kevin "Zippy Vader" Zabawa, of the ECG, dressed as an Imperial Officer and who took most of these pictures (Thanks Lord Zippy!), was assisting at Checkpoint Two, about half way through the "Walk. At times, the forces of the Dark Side were delayed for up to 10 minutes while adults and kids lined-up to get a picture with Lord Vader and his Stormtroopers. Cries of "Can I get a picture with you?", "Hey, I'm Next!", "Oh Please, just one more?" were heard throughout the Walk. The weather was perfect and the crowds were polite and adoring. Some of the kids tagged along with the "Old Sarge" for blocks. You know what they will want to do when they get to be older - Join the 501st!
Taking a break on Riverside Drive, near Check Point Two, are left to right - George Metz, "Oberon" TD124 - Christian Bontigao TK6140 - Roger Olson, Lord Vader SL2070 and Leon "The Brit"Clarence TK545 .
Picture Groups . . . and More Picture Groups
At Left - As Oberon puts his "bucket" on, its Time to get underway in 2004 with Christian Bontigao, TK6140. At Right - Roger "Vader" Olson, SL2070 - George Metz, "Oberon" TD124 - Christian Bontigao TK6140, of the Empire City Garrison, stand proud after completing the 2004 Walk. After the rest of the Star Wars Groups "gave it up" at the first check point, the ECG's "Mighty Trio" earned their bragging rights by soldiering-on, at about 3 mph, to finish the 6.2 mile hike in about 3 hours, including water & ice cream breaks and numerous photo stops along the way with adoring admirers. OOOHH - RAAAA !!! ECG!! Photos by Dion Rupa
Walk Completion Award Sticker and Badge - Lord "Zippy" Vader was rather upset with the low turn-out of those who said they would be participating in support of the "2003 Walk". The result of his wrath was this lamp post! It's not nice to disappoint Lord Vader! Govern yourselves accordingly.
After crossing the Finish Line, Oberon and Lord Vader posed for a photo. . . and then another photo. . .
AND ANOTHER PHOTO !! A walker gets a "thumbs-up" from the Old Sarge
Waiting for an Opening ---- Ahh! At Last! ---- The Pressure's Off!! ---- Back in Action!
After the Walk, the forces of the Dark Side retired to a well deserved rest and meal at the Brooklyn Diner on 57th Street. On the left is Roger "Lord Vader" Olson inspecting a blaster; while on the right, Christian Bontigao TK6140, takes aim at trooper Oberon.
The "Walks" are certainly a satisfying experience. Not so satisfying was the two hours it took the Old Sarge to get from 58th Street to the Lincoln Tunnel, probably less than two miles, due to grid-locked traffic in 2003. In 2004 he went north to the G.W. Bridge and managed to escape Manhattan in about half the time.