Every now as a blogger, I get invited to an event I know is special. Yesterday was one such event. I was a guest of 77 Kids by American Eagle to the 18th Annual Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation “Kids for Kids” Celebrity Carnival. Like everyone else, I will never forget Elizabeth Glaser. Her death had a profound impact on me..and the rest of the world, and it was a time in my life I’ll never forget. This is one event I would not dare miss.
Elizabeth Glaser, was a major American AIDS activist and child advocate married to actor and director Paul Michael Glaser. She contracted HIV very early in the modern AIDS epidemic after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth. Like other HIV-infected mothers, Glaser unknowingly passed the virus to her infant daughter, Ariel, through breastfeeding. The Glasers’ son, Jake, born in 1984, contracted HIV from his mother in utero. Yesterday, I was honored to see Jake live in person. Healthy, strong and a proponent for AIDS awareness.
My son and I reveled in playing ping pong from Spin NYC, creating 77 Kids t-shirt via silk screening, munching on incredible food from places like Witchcraft and Serendipity, watching entertainment from Disney, sitting in a photo booth together and making faces at the camera, getting his face painted and more.
But it was more than just having fun, we were there for a reason, and I tried to explain it to him the best way I could. With pictures and words wrapped around the room, including a massive pledge to sign to stop the fight against pediatric AIDS, it was easy to remember the over-arching reason for being there, and it made it easy to remember that the right is not over. I took great pleasure when he and I both signed the pledge.
Here are some photos from the event:
Just because AIDS is no longer in the news every five minutes like it was when I was growing up does not mean that we should forget the cause. According to a recent CNN article published last week, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is one of the important programs that could suffer from budget cuts. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation seeks to prevent pediatric HIV infection and to eradicate pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs and it is much needed as AIDS is still prevalent in Africa and women and children need our help.
It’s important to remember that when Glaser began to battle pediatric AIDS, all she had was hope. Today, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of the foundation that bears her name, there is every reason to believe the war can be won. That we can eliminate pediatric AIDS worldwide. That every baby can be born free of HIV.
This dream has become a reality for thousands of children, women, and families around the world. But every single day, 1,000 mothers around the world unknowingly transfer HIV to their babies. Without treatment, half of HIV-infected children will die before they reach the age of two.
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation seeks to prevent pediatric HIV infection and to eradicate pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention and treatment programs.
If you’re looking to support an organization or want to give back to others this holiday season, consider donating to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Disclosure: I was personally invited to this event but all opinions are my own.