November 2018

Elizabeth Glaser Gave Me Hope

Created by:

Ben Banks, EGPAF Ambassador

Topics:

EGPAF Ambassadors; General

Ben Banks is a long-time EGPAF Ambassador and champion for pediatric HIV/AIDS activism and the elimination of stigma.  

In the days surrounding November 11th, I cannot help but think of Elizabeth Glaser and not only celebrate her birthday, but celebrate her life, legacy, and the role she played as Mother to all of us HIV-positive children.

Last month I had a monumental birthday.  I celebrated my 40th birthday, which I owe to the tireless effort of Elizabeth and EGPAF cofounders, Susan DeLaurentis and Susie Zeegen.  In 1991, I was diagnosed with HIV, which I received from a blood transfusion that saved my life from cancer in 1981.  This was a time of unknowns for HIV/AIDS, and a diagnosis easily became a death sentence in the eyes of many physicians.  Tomorrows were never a guarantee for me.

Ben Banks with his wife Kasiah, daughter Finley, and Jake Glaser at ATFH 2013
Jake Glaser and Finley Banks at ATFH 2018

Luckily, just one year prior to my diagnosis, AZT was approved as a pediatric HIV medication.  This was the direct result of the effort from the Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Elizabeth’s tireless fight made it possible for me to have the hope and courage I needed to plan for my future.  Today, I have the love and support of my best friend and wife, Kasiah, and together we bravely live each day to the fullest with our five-year-old daughter, Finley Elizabeth Banks (named in honor of Elizabeth Glaser).

Elizabeth’s tireless fight made it possible for me to have the hope and courage I needed to plan for my future.

Each birthday is a time to celebrate surviving another year; growing old, getting grey hair, and getting wrinkles.  As an EGPAF Ambassador, I get to share these milestones annually at A Time for Heroes, the annual family festival that raises critical funds to end pediatric HIV/AIDS.  I consider the event to be a family reunion, where I get to see friends like Jake Glaser and join in the fun and activities with my family. At ATFH, every year is a celebration of life and survival.

Elizabeth knew how to celebrate life.  She lived each day to the fullest.  She fought every day for what mattered most—a child’s life.  She became the Voice for a population without a voice.  Jake Glaser, who I consider a brother, we Thank You for sharing your mother with us.