In Training (sponsor me, please?)

I know, I know, not another do-gooder bleeding-heart “lib” hitting me up for money!  Not in this recession.  Man, are you kidding?

Diana Ross at Mar-A-Lago

Image by -Eric via Flickr

I suspect that’s the reaction many people have these days after being guilt-ed into giving $25 here for a coworker’s bicycle ride across the continent or $50 there to some walk that has a ribbon in some color you can’t remember for some cause or condition you haven’t heard of before.
That instant bit of sarcasm often flashes through my head when someone leaves one of those letters in my mailbox at work or sends me an e-mail request showing the thermometer gauge and how far they’re away from meeting their fundraising goal.
So you know what’s coming now, right?

(Drumroll please…)

Yes, It’s my turn!

(Lights down, Diana Ross track underneath, bring her up slowly, spotlight focuses on me.  Why am I suddenly writing my blog like it’s a screenplay, or actually more like a one-man soap opera filled with cliches?)
I think it’s because this is the first time ever that I’m signing up for one of those “cause walks,” getting my fundraising webpage, and now asking everyone I know to chip in.
For many years, I had the perfect excuse that got me out of not one, but two things:  walks involving fundraising and going to church.   I had to go to work on weekend mornings and that’s what got me out of many occasions when  I was invited to participate.

But this time, it’s my choice.  This is something important to me, no one’s asked me to join their team or to do it with them.  I saw the sign in Palm Springs somewhere, stopped and realized — well sure I can actually do that now.

AIDS hasn’t gone away.  Sadly, too many people think now that they have treatment down to just a few pills, it’s not such a big deal anymore.

I remember all too well when a walk like this one was as much a walk to pay tribute to all who have died as it was a fundraiser.  It had the feeling of a funeral procession, so many people sharing stories of all the friends they had lost seemingly overnight and feeling helpless there wasn’t a way to save them.

And I remember being so scared that I would be one of them, too.

Then around 1996 came word of an AIDS “cocktail,” that seemed to be working for a great number of people with HIV.  And the improvements in the medications that followed have continued to the point today where a lot of young gay people I meet see it as just a chronic illness.  Thankfully, it has become a lot like diabetes or another long-term condition that can be treated for a lifetime.  It’s not killing people like it used to.

But too many people are still getting it.  And places like the Desert AIDS Project, for which I will be walking and raising money, are seeing their funding sources shrink rapidly.  It’s to the point now where I was told the Desert AIDS Project most likely won’t be called that within a year or two because there’s less and less funding, and without opening their doors to the general public, the place will be forced to shut down.

In many ways, that’s great news.  People are alive because of the advancements.

But in other ways, it’s tragic for the many men and women who rely on the DAP, because there they’ve received first-class service in a world that often treats them like second-class citizens.

I am raising money for them, in honor of all the names on the AIDS quilt.

And I will also be walking for the many millions in Africa who still don’t have access to these life-saving drugs.  There has been some improvement on that, but not nearly enough.  It’s shameful.

I hope you can take a moment to sponsor me.  Every little bit helps.  And thank you for your support!  You will be with me in my heart on the day of the walk, October 13, 2010.