Susie Zeegen & Susan DeLaurentis, Co-Founders

Susie Zeegen: Fated to Save Lives

Elizabeth Glaser (then Elizabeth Meyer) and I grew up together in New York on Long Island. We were Brownies together.

Years later, I was working on my master’s degree in child development at UCLA, and my thesis was to create one of the original exhibits at the opening of the Los Angeles Children’s Museum. There was another young woman who was a teacher working on the project with me. One afternoon, we went outdoors to eat our lunch, and she asked, “Where are you from?”

I said, “Oh, I’m from this little town on Long Island that if you don’t know it, you don’t know it.” She said, “Oh my god; that’s how I always refer to where I’m from.” So I looked at her and said, “Betsy Meyer! I’m Susie Bernstein.” From that moment, she and I rekindled our friendship and had a stronger and closer relationship than ever. Years later, my husband and I became good friends with Elizabeth and her husband.

In fact, the night that Ariel was born in 1981, we were at the hospital with them, waiting for her arrival. Elizabeth had a very difficult delivery that evening. She hemorrhaged and was given seven units of blood postpartum that were, unfortunately, HIV-infected. Of course this was before anyone knew anything about HIV or AIDS and what was going to happen—until four years later when Ari, who had contracted HIV through Elizabeth’s breast milk, became sick.

After Ari died in August 1988, Elizabeth was determined to figure out how to save the life of her second child, Jake, who had contracted HIV in utero. Elizabeth and Paul were not public with her diagnosis and in order for her to do anything, she was going to need help.

One of my more exquisite memories was when Elizabeth .... Read Susie's Complete Story Here

Susan DeLaurentis: We Were Moms Who Saw a Crisis

Elizabeth Glaser and I were best friends. We met when my daughter, Francesca, and Elizabeth’s daughter, Ariel, were just 2 years old. We met at the swing set and we became close friends right from that moment. We were at the same point in our lives—we were enjoying our first children; they were both toddlers; they were both girls.

Four years later, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, were told by their doctor that the doctor told that Ari was not going to make it through the weekend because of her AIDS-related illness. In the midst of that devastating news, Elizabeth found me sitting on the steps outside the hospital, and she said, “I’ve got to do something about this.”

Ari lived another five months before losing her battle. After Ari died, Elizabeth’s attention turned to her young son, Jake, who, like Elizabeth, was also infected with HIV.

A couple of months later, Elizabeth called me and said, “I’ve decided. I really want to start a foundation to save Jake—but I can’t do it without you.”

I had really little kids at that point, so she added, “It’s not going to be full time—I have this other friend, Susie Zeegen; her kids are grown, and she’ll be able to devote a lot to this. So for you it will be a part time thing.”

Of course, I soon found out that there was plenty of work for all three of us. .... Read Susan's Complete Story Here

 

Susie and Susan

Susan and Susie

Susie, Susan, and Elizabeth

Susie, Susan, and Elizabeth

Susie, Elizabeth, and Susan

Susie, Foundation Ambassador Hydeia, and Susan