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Sunday, April 5, 2009

A TIME FOR HEROES

This picture was taken last June at "A Time For Heroes," an event sponsored by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.  That's Joey DiPaolo in the middle of my gang. Joey is a longtime friend. He contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he was given during a life-saving heart operation he had in 1984.  When he was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, doctors gave him only  one year to live. Today, he's almost thirty. This young man's courage and  grace under fire has been a big source of inspiration to our family. He's given us some great advice and been a terrific example for our kids over the years.  Joey, like Ryan White, was faced with crowds of protesters in front of his school when his HIV status became public. Parents were afraid that their children were at risk of contracting the disease from Joey. 
This happening to my children was one of my biggest fears, and the main reason why we kept our disease a secret for so many years. It was my oldest daughter, Alee, who pushed us to come out. I've never once regretted that decision.  Thankfully, our family has received a tremendous amount of support from the schools, their staff, and even parents. We've been truly blessed. It's because of  people like Joey DiPaolo and Ryan White, who struggled to educate and move us forward, that our family has been met with so much support and compassion. I want to send  a shout out to these young people and their families who paved this difficult road before us. I hope their stories of hope and courage are never forgotten.   

To learn more about Joey DiPaolo and what he's doing in the fight against AIDS visit his website at www.jdaf.org


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