Saturday evening, Michael and I scootered over to Hamburger Mary's for dinner and some bingo. They do Charity Bingo there just about every night and it's hosted by one of Kansas City's lovely drag queens. Saturday night's game was hosted by Monique Heart and the charity was benefiting the LGBT Latino community. Mario Canedo, the guy in charge of the charity said a few words about how the money raised that evening would be spent on HIV services like testing and education for Latino youth. Mentioning youth and HIV in the same sentence rang some bells for me and reminded me that I need to get on the ball with my fundraising.
Youth and HIV is how I got involved with fundraising for the AIDS Walk in the first place. My sophomore/junior year in high school saw a rise in teenage pregnancies. Girls I went to kindergarten with were having their first child right after getting their driver's license. This did not bother me. In fact, thanks to the lovely world of Facebook, I can see that those girls' lives turned out well and those babies are now in college or recently graduated college and we all feel super old. The thing that did bother me was the possibility that someone I knew, someone close to me would be irresponsible enough to get sick. It was obvious that unprotected sex was happening. A pregnancy is one thing that can change your life forever, but a serious sexually transmitted disease like HIV can end your life forever. So, I jumped on the safe sex band wagon and later on after HS and college, I raised money for the AIDS Walk.
According to Advocates for Youth, twenty four percent of fourteen-year-olds are sexually active (yikes!). The CDC estimates that there are over 50,000 new HIV infections a year. Fifty thousand is too many. Ten is too many. Particularly when we know how HIV is transmitted. Seriously, we should see zero new cases a year. And this is why I walk. I walk so that we never stop talking about this disease. I walk so that my nieces and nephews and friends kids have access to accurate education and the means to protect themselves. I walk because 50,000 new infection a year is unacceptable. I walk because I believe we are capable of zero infections a year and for years and years and forever.
Last year I gave away prints for every donation. This year, I'm going to let you pick. I will video chat a yoga class with you or sing you a song. I will write you a letter or send you a picture of your choice. I will name the first chicken egg after you. You name it, I'll do it because I'm that grateful for any little bit you can give. I can't even tell you how much. Remember: you can click here on my charity page or go directly to my AIDS Walk Donation Page at https://www.aidswalkkansascity.org/elephantsoap
You guys are the best!