Lights, Camera, Take Action: Holy Cross Dance Marathon 2015
Ben Banks, EGPAF Ambassador
At Holy Cross Dance Marathon, the lights were shining on the dancers. The cameras were flashing. And more than $30,000 was raised to support the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and its efforts to end AIDS in children. The theme of Lights, Camera, Take Action was in full effect. And even as snow fell on the ground outside in Worcester, Mass., the students kept things warm inside the ballroom as they danced the night away and proved they were UP 4 THE FIGHT to create a world where no child has AIDS.
I was honored to receive an invitation to speak at Holy Cross Dance Marathon to share my own story of living with HIV and why I continue to fight for an AIDS-free future. In 1981, at the tender age of 2, I was diagnosed with cancer that required three blood transfusions. During one of those transfusions I unknowingly contracted HIV.
Back then, very little was known about HIV/AIDS and nothing was known about how the virus impacted children. But thanks to EGPAF’s co-founders, Elizabeth Glaser, Susie Zeegen, and Susan DeLaurentis, and their work to advocate for children living with HIV, I was able to access the treatment I needed to remain healthy.
And this year, I had the privilege of introducing the students to an unexpected and very special guest — Richard Moriarty, M.D., a local pediatric infectious disease physician. After 19 years, I reunited face-to-face with Dr. Moriarty, who was my physician when I was first diagnosed with HIV. Dr. Moriarty played a pivotal role in seeing many pediatric patients, like me, reach adulthood. It is thanks to Dr. Moriarty, EGPAF, and amazing advocates like the students who participate in Dance Marathons across the country, that I am alive and well today. And I have a beautiful family — my wife, Kasiah, and my daughter, Finley, are both healthy and HIV-free!
I was amazed by the effort and dedication of the Dance Marathon students. They are realizing Elizabeth, Susie, and Susan’s vision of an AIDS-free future. I am proud of each and every one of the students involved in the Holy Cross Dance Marathon!