Author Pat Conroy, whose latest novel, "South of Broad," is on the New York Times best seller list, is the featured speaker at a Dec. 3 benefit book-signing for the S.C. Autism Society.
Historian Walter Edgar hosts the 7 p.m. event at the S.C. State Museum. The S.C. Autism Society is an organization that supports state residents with autism spectrum disorders.
Tickets are $75 and include an autographed copy of "South of Broad."
Details: (800) 438-4790 or www.scautism.org.
SEEKING TO END THE SILENCE ON AIDS
South Carolina ranks eighth among the states in diagnosed cases of AIDS per person, with 14,645 reported cases.
Yet many people are reluctant to talk about HIV/AIDS. Health officials want the silence to end, starting with local programs on World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services has scheduled a remembrance ceremony at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Cecil Tillis Center, 2111 Simpkins Lane, Columbia.
After the ceremony, experts from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council will make presentations.
No admission is charged for the event.
Also, throughout the day, free or low-cost rapid tests for HIV will be offered in many of DHEC's county public health departments and community agencies.
Information about World AIDS Day events: (800) 322-2437.In conjunction with World AIDS Day, New Life Productions will stage a presentation of "To Touch God's Hand" Dec. 4 at Booker Washington Heights Cultural Arts Center, 2611 Grant St., Columbia.
The play by Leasharn M. Hopkins deals with the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. Tickets are $10.
BREAST CANCER GROUP MAKES CHANGES
One of the largest national breast cancer-awareness groups has reorganized its operations in South Carolina.
The Upstate S.C. Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has expanded its service area from 11 to 22 counties and changed the name to the S.C. Mountains to Midlands Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The Midlands counties added include Kershaw, Lexington and Richland. The changes within the organization also include a new executive director, Columbia native Krista Bannister, an eight-year breast cancer survivor.
The S.C. organization has raised more than $4 million for breast cancer education, screening and treatment since 1995. Information: komenupstatesc.org.
JINGLE ALL THE WAY TONIGHT
In just a few years, the Sleigh Bell Trot has become a holiday tradition for many active folks in the Midlands. Hundreds of runners will gather tonight at Saluda Shoals Park to run 3.1 miles along the paved trails and roads in the park.
If you're not up to the run, you can enjoy the shorter fun walk. And it all takes place at night amid the sparkly displays of Holiday Lights on the River.
The entry fee is $30 for the run or $5 for the walk. Kids 6 and younger can walk for free.
Register: icrc.net or strictlyrunning.com.
TAKE A LONG RUN IN THE WOODS
There's a new event for really healthy folks in the Midlands - a half marathon trail run at Harbison State Forest.
Called Rudolph's Rampage, the event is scheduled for Dec. 5. Runners will do two laps of a course that covers portions of the Firebreak, Stewardship and Midlands Mountain trails. That means lots of quick dips and some extended climbs and downhills.
For mountain bike enthusiasts (or gluttons who want to push themselves to the limit on foot and on a bike), the Race to the River 50-mile mountain bike race follows on Dec. 6 at Harbison.
Information/entry forms: cyclecenter.com.
WANT TO RUN FARTHER?
If half a marathon isn't enough to quench your thirst for running, consider gathering some friends and signing up for another new event in South Carolina - the Palmetto 200.
It's a 200-mile relay race from Congaree National Park to Folly Beach. The inaugural Palmetto 200 is scheduled for April 30-May 1. Each 12-person team covers 36 relay legs from the swamp to the ocean.
LEARN ABOUT GERMS
EdVenture Children's Museum is conducting a series of free programs teaching parents and children how to stay healthy during the flu season and prevent spread of the disease.
Kathie Williams, EdVenture's health education manager, will teach the "Germs, Germs, Germs" programs at Richland County library branches.
The program will be offered:
Saturday: 11 a.m., Southeast Regional Branch Library, 7421 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia
Dec. 5: 11 a.m., Northeast Regional Branch Library, 7490 Parklane Road, Columbia
Dec. 12: 11 a.m., Sandhills Branch Library, 1 Summit Parkway, Columbia
HOLIDAY VOLUNTEER POSSIBILITY
If you have musical talent and are looking for a way to give back to the community during the holiday season, consider spending a couple of hours playing holiday songs at Palmetto Health Cancer Center.
The center is looking for volunteers to play shifts of one or two hours Dec. 1-25. Small musical combos or choral groups are welcome, and a piano is available. To volunteer, call (803) 434-2659.