Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"No One Is Alone. Truly, No One Is Alone"

Tonight, I had dinner with my friends Lori Cannon and Brian-Mark Conover.

Each of us work for various HIV/AIDS service organizations and it was wonderful to have some time chatting, laughing and catching up.

In my opinion, Lori is THE person to know in the Chicago HIV/AIDS community. If you need help, if you need services, if you need to get something done, you call Lori. Period.

We all try to help others; Lori succeeds at it.

Months ago, Lori called me and asked if I would read names at a small showing of The AIDS Memorial Quilt at The Center on Halsted in the gymnasium. I would and will do anything Lori asks, so of course I said yes.

There were only 10 or so sections of The Quilt on display, and as I had done in the past - - as far back as my Knoxville days - - I read the names of those people whose lives had been ended by this horrible plague into a microphone at the end of the room.

Not just the names of those on the Quilt panels being shown at The Center that day, but all of the names on all of the panels of The Quilt that had ever been made.

Tonight, Lori told me that a woman was attending a meeting inside The Center the same day that The Quilt was being displayed. The woman's meeting was down the hall from the gymnasium and she left the meeting for a few minutes to stretch her legs and look outside. As she took in the view outside the window, she heard someone say her son's name.

Her son had died of AIDS and she and her husband had created a panel for him for The Quilt.

And as she looked through the window, I read her son's name.

I didn't know this at the time, but when the woman heard her son's name, she came into the gymnasium and saw The Quilt panels. And there was the panel that she had made for her son.

Lori told me that later that evening, the woman came back in, talked to Lori and spent time with her son's panel. She smoothed it out. She was proud that she had taken the time to back stitch the panel; it was holding up well.

As Lori said tonight, that is the magic of The Quilt. Stories like that follow it everywhere.

Exactly one month from today, I am walking in Chicago's AIDS Run & Walk for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. I am the Captain of Season of Concern's Team and I am happy to say that, because of the generosity of the AIDS Foundation, 100% of the funds raised by our Team will go directly to Season of Concern

Season of Concern provides direct-care services and support to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Chicago theatre community.

We still need Team Members and we very much need donations. In the past, I have raised over $1,000 myself for the AIDS Walk and this year, my pledge total is only $75. Season of Concern's Team fundraising goal is $15,000 and our Team pledge total is currently $1,959.

So, if you would like to join our Team, email me and I can talk you through it.

Or if you would like to pledge me in this year's AIDS Walk, click here.

And Lori, thanks for telling me that story. It truly means the world to me.


Project Christopher said...

Thank you Stephen, for causing me tear up first thing in the morning. What an impact that story made!

I read this particluar post (the part about you doing the AIDS Run/Walk) with a bit of pride knowing that in my short time at AFC I was the one who convinced you to participate. How I did, and a line you've repeated since, has become one of my favorite AFC stories.

"Stephen, I don't need you to walk...."

Don't get me wrong, not taking credit for your hard work, you've done FABULOUSLY over the past few years since taking your first step in the AIDS walk. But every time you mention it, I smile knowing where it started :)

Stephen Rader said...

chris - Thank you so much for suggesting that Season of Concern be a part of the AIDS Walk! You're the best! And I tell that story all the time as well!

And to Karl Blessinger - I'm not sure if you sponsored me because of the blog post or not, but if you did, thank you for your very generous donation. It is GREATLY appreciated!!!