Reflecting on an Amazing Month

Jake Glaser at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, where he received the Partners in Activism Award.

Desert AIDS Project

Jake Glaser is Elizabeth Glaser’s son, and a powerful advocate for children and young people living with HIV. Over the past few months, he’s been traveling the country, sharing his story of hope and determination. Just yesterday, he issued a statement about the Mississippi baby cured of HIV that read in part: “We still have a tremendous amount  of work to do, but with today’s announcement, we are one step closer in realizing our dream of an AIDS-free generation. I’m smiling. I’d like to think that my mom is smiling too and with those smiles comes a firm reminder that we must stay vigilant and not let up until we cure HIV in its entirety, once and for all." He wrote this blog for us about a recent award he received   and about how inspired he is by the continued fight for an AIDS-free generation.

I am just settling in from an amazing month of life-changing events. This February was not only a milestone and a turning point for me, but for the nation’s HIV/AIDS community as well. And I had a front-row seat, watching incredible changes happen from the deserts of California to the skyscrapers of New York City.

Earlier this month, I had the honor of spending a weekend with the Desert AIDS Project (DAP) in Palm Springs, California. DAP provides vital care and treatment, testing, housing, and even nutritional programs to HIV-positive community members. They are truly a grassroots organization, making a difference to thousands in the Palm Desert area. I was introduced to the organization at their annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, where I was honored with their Partners In Activism Award.

While it was incredible to be even a small part of the evening, the real honor for me was to see the amazing work of DAP first-hand. The entire community rallies around DAP in amazing ways, and are an important example for us to examine and adopt for ourselves.

Being there reminded me that while each of us may be committed to different aspects of our work in HIV/AIDS, we are all committed to overcoming this epidemic and it will take a global community to do it.

After the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, I cruised over to UCLA for their annual Up for the Fight! Dance Marathon. I was so grateful to be a part of a 26-hour dance party, raising awareness and much-needed funding for global efforts to end pediatric AIDS. More than 1,000 students came together to focus on supporting children around the world affected by HIV. The mark they left on the larger AIDS community is bigger than they know raising over $440,000. CONGRATS UCLA!!!

A few days after UCLA, I found myself in New York City at the Foundation’s inaugural Global Champions of a Mother’s Fight awards dinner. It was a powerful evening, and the perfect way to close a month of HIV advocacy and educational work. Global Champions was an opportunity to recognize our success and impact in the HIV/AIDS community, and a time to expand and amplify our shared goal of an AIDS-free generation.

The energy in the room was palpable, and we were all captured by the amazing conversation between the honorees of the evening: Cookie Johnson of the Magic Johnson Foundation, Amy Robbins of the Nduna Foundation, and Johnson & Johnson, represented by President and CEO Alex Gorsky.  They spoke about the epidemic, and Mr. Gorsky announced a Johnson & Johnson pledge to match every gift given to EGPAF from now until Mother’s Day, up to $1 million.

Thank you, J&J. There is no doubt that you have been a game changer in this process.

I want to thank each of our honorees for their commitments to the shared fight against AIDS. I also want to thank them for their powerful and beautiful acknowledgements of my mother and sister. I was so touched when they each spoke about how Mom and Ariel inspired much of their own hard work, propelling us to where we stand today.

What an amazing month. I’m back home now and processing it all.

When I returned to California, my cousin picked me up from the airport and surprised me with my surfboards in the car. We went straight to my favorite spot on the coastline. Sitting in the ocean, I reflected on my February and the amazing work I had the honor of witnessing. Each event focused on a different aspect of the fight against AIDS, but they all reminded me that together, we are making a big difference in the fight to create a generation free of AIDS.

It is because of each of you, and your individual efforts, that we stand where we are today – working together, looking just ahead to an AIDS-free generation and a world without AIDS.

With that, I thank you.