As the sun set over Menemsha Harbor on Martha’s Vineyard, I sat with two people I hold dear to my heart on the deck of Home Port, one of my favorite restaurants as a child. After an amazing spread of lobster, mussels, littleneck clams, oysters on the half shell, French fries, and to top it all off, soft serve ice cream, I became incredibly nostalgic.
It was on Martha’s Vineyard, some 25 years ago, where I spent my summers as a little tyke alongside my mother, father, sister and all of our cousins. We stayed on a magical beach, at the end of a long dirt road. Covered in thousands of perfectly round stones and a ribbon of sand that sprawled the entire coastline, Stonewall Beach was my home away from home. Our days were filled with surfing, swimming, crabbing, sailing, and of course plenty of mischief—adventure was a priority for our family. We would sit on the deck of our house, sharing stories with friends and family, hosting guests and soaking in some of the most incredible sunsets in the world.
After my mother passed, Martha’s Vineyard and I grew apart. It was tough to go back without her, and I was in a new chapter in my life, a new adventure—one that would eventually lead me right back to Stonewall Beach, with those that I love, finding memories from the past and creating new ones for the future.
It wasn’t until I revisited the island this past year that the real essence, the real magic of Martha’s Vineyard became so obvious. It is a powerful place, one that can put life into perspective and allow us to appreciate the simple things—a place that creates adventure and captures our imaginations. Walking down the path to Stonewall Beach some 25 years later, I was suddenly hit with a wave of emotion.
Twenty-five years ago my mother and her friends, Susie and Susan, started the Pediatric AIDS Foundation to save my life and the lives of children around the world born with HIV. Words cannot express the love that I felt from my mother as I sat there, alive and healthy, enjoying wonderful food and a glorious sunset. How many other grown adults and children were at that moment also taking in the beauty of the sunset because my mother spoke to power and told the world to work for a world without pediatric AIDS?
I felt something I had never felt before. My mother and sister were there with me, radiating love, showing me the incredible beauty in the little things. And our house on Stonewall Beach, it hadn’t changed a bit, despite storms and high seas over the decades. When I reflect on my journey over the past 25 years, I see a lot in common between that house and me.
After 25 years of battling nature, we were still standing.
Ariel, Elizabeth and Jake
Ariel and Jake
Elizabeth and Jake at one of the first A Time for Heroes events
Jake at the 2010 Glamour 20th Annual Women of the Year Awards Gala
Jake taking the stage at the 2011 A Time for Heroes
Jake speaking at the 2013 A Time for Heroes