MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Walking for a cause, thousands took the streets of Miami Beach Sunday morning for the 26th Annual AIDS Walk Miami: One Step Closer to a Cure.

The walked kicked off at 9 a.m. at the Miami Beach Convention Center and ended at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens. To show solidarity, walkers were encouraged to wear red shoes.

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Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine was this year’s Master of Ceremonies and television personality Alexia Echevarria, from the Bravo Network‟s hit reality show “The Real Housewives of Miami,” was the Grand Marshal.

“I am honored to have been selected to be the grand Marshall of the AIDS WALK MIAMI. I feel that by fundraising efforts like this kind I can help raise awareness, bring hope and build a sense of community,” said Echevarria in a statement. “Many People living with HIV/AIDS in our community simply cannot afford medical care and treatment and need our help.”

The 25th Annual AIDS Walk Miami is a 5K (3.1 miles) walk-a-thon fundraiser benefiting Care Resource and the Food for Life Network. All funds raised from AIDS Walk Miami are used in Miami-Dade and Broward counties which rank highest in the nation for new HIV infections.

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The annual fundraiser helps make it possible for Care Resource to serve more than 18,000 client encounters, deliver more than 40,000 meals to home-bound clients and perform 12,000 free HIV and STD screenings per year.

AIDS Walk Miami is one of the oldest and largest AIDS walks in the country.

Miami-Dade County Animal Services is hosting an adoption event during the post walk proceedings at the botanical gardens.

Cats and dogs will be available for adoption at reduced adoption fees and fees will be waived for anyone who adopts dog over 35 pounds. Adopters will be responsible for a $27 license fee.

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Each animal at the event will be spayed/neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.