For the past 5 days I have been in Chicago at the Campaign to End Aids Youth Institute. Young people from all over the country who are comitted to ending the AIDS epidemic gathered for 5 days of intensive training in organizing, fundraising, media training, and HIV prevention and education.
One of the highlights of this experience for me was petitioning the people of Chicago on the street to join in the fight to end AIDS by signing their names to a petition that will be sent to the Governor of Illinois. Over 600 signatures and $200.00 in donations were collected within an hour.
But I have to say meeting Larry Bryant was a surprise and another life experience I will never forget. I was first introduced to Larry through an article I read at thebody.com. Larry is a 21 year survivor of HIV and a national field organizer at Housing Works in D.C. .You can read his full story at thebody.com. Although he doesn't label himself as an Aids activist he jumps at every opportunity to educate people on the facts regarding hiv transmission and prevention.
Diagnosed in 1986, Larry lived through a time when a positive diagnosis was considered a death sentence. 21 years later he is still here, healthy and living life to the fullest. He possess a quiet strength that is unlike anything I've ever witnessed in a person. It was extremely important to me that I was able to discuss the effects this disease is having on the black community with a like minded individual and Larry became that person for me.
It's amazing the people that God will place in your life to shape your journey into what it is meant to be. Although my time is winding down here in Chicago, I'm sure this is only the beginning of my relationship with my brother in the struggle, Larry Bryant.