Today is a day of celebration. This evening I met with the Board of Directors of Jasmyn for them to be our 501(c)3 sponsor. The meeting started at 7pm and they had me first on the agenda. After I gave my presentation explaining what Dab the AIDS Bear Project is and the fund raisers that we do for children with HIV and AIDS, the Board voted unanimously to be our sponsor. It was the best early birthday present that I could have been given. This will greatly increase our opportunities to raise funds for our events since those contributions will now be tax deductible. So a big huge bear hug to Cindy and the rest of the Board for believing in our vision.
Jasmyn was originally started by a friend of mine in 1991. They provide a safe environment for young people to freely discuss social issues and difference and embracing all segments of our communities. Jasmyn has always had a strong presence and belief in community service since their inception. They also now provide a STD health clinic for young people. I have the utmost respect for the job they are doing and how much they have grown.
The picture today is of me in front of Clint Humble's Memorial AIDS's panel. Clint was a very close friend of mine from my home town. We had dated for a short time but I had to leave for California. His mother was ill and he had moved back home to take care of her until her death. Unfortunately about a year later, Clint died from complications from HIV and AIDS. He was a wonderful, caring, full of life individual. Clint always had a smile of his face and his hair ALWAYS had to look perfect. But his heart was his best feature. Clint had a huge heart that took in everyone. I miss him to this day.
I also had a local Divided We Fail meeting at Panera's in San Marco. We had several people attend and give updates on what they've been doing. Nancy also passed out new info sheets on initiatives. We also had a question and answer period. I had a delicious ham and swiss on three cheese bread and some french onion soup. Lindsey and I updated Nancy on upcoming events and we're working on somehow getting the Champmobile up to Jacksonville.
I've also been working some on my tan. Luckily the weather has been just warm enough to get sun but not hot enough to sit there and sweat to death doing it. I've also been doing my workouts but due to my tendon problems in my right arm; I'm using much lighter weights on several of the exercises. I don't want to lose the results of all the hard work... but I also don't want to damage the tendon to where I can't work out at all.
My birthday is on Friday and I always look forward to my birthday. Since I found out at such a young age that I might not live long (which is what happened to almost all of my friends after finding out they were positive in the 80s), I'm just glad and grateful to have made it to 46.
I know how lucky and fortunate I am to still be here and have the wonderful family, friends and support system in my life. I would like to thank all of you for touching my life and making a difference in it. I'm still amazed that so many people read this blog... but I hope that in my ramblings you each find hope, information and maybe sometimes a good cry or laugh. I do promise each of you that as long as I have a breath running through my body that I won't stand for people with HIV being put on waiting lists or allowed to die. Not on my watch.
I would also like to thank all the organizations that help my voice be heard... Jasmyn, Northeast Florida AIDS Network, Lutheran Social Services, The Rose support group, First Coast Chorus, Divided We Fail, AARP, National Institute of Health, National Association of People With AIDS, VolunteerMarch.org and Poz.
I would also like to thank again all the wonderful churches, business, support groups, choruses, offices, groups and individuals that participated in last year's Teddy Bear Touchdown in whatever city that you helped. You've helped make a dream of mine come true where children with HIV and AIDS are given hope during the holiday season. You're all my angels!
And most of all I would like to thank my family, close friends, project members and my partner. I know sometimes I can be demanding. Sometimes I'm out of town or unreachable for a few days at a time. Sometimes I only get to see close great friends a couple of times a year... But all of you have played a major part in my life and I thank you for it.
And lastly, I would like to thank my parents. I was lucky to have a family that always believed in me and always loved me... no matter what virus or disease I might have... no matter what my choice of partners in life. They also built in me the belief in taking care of family and community. I just wished my mom had lived to see my Teddy Bear Touchdown reach multiple cities. She always worked so hard on children's charities. But somehow I know she's looking down and smiling.
I hope that all of you are having a great week also! Wishing you health, hope and happiness.
Big bear hug,