Another week, another runner submission! This one comes to us from the wonderful Scott Brawley who will be running Marine Corps with T2 on his birthday!
Growing up a little gay boy in the 1980s, AIDS was always around me. Coming out in the early 1990’s I had friends that passed away before advances in science and medicine led to HIV infection becoming a chronic manageable disease. I saw the ravages of a community and the damage HIV inflected on a generation. Growing up with HIV impacted virtually every decision I made as a young gay man. Every date, everyone I met might have it. Was this individual worth the risk, would they be here in a year or would I be attending another memorial? Would I be here? HIV even impacted the career choices I made.
I am a social worker. I have worked as a Hospice Social Worker, helping people dying from HIV to exit this world in dignity. I have been a medical Social Worker, helping individuals living with HIV get the vital services they need. I have been an advocate, lobbying Congress for increased money, reasoning with our opposition, pleading for those less fortunate.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard. Working most of your adult life to convince people to change behavior, to engage in less risky practices, to seek drug addiction treatment is hard. Asking our opposition to not view gay men and minorities and individuals living with HIV as promiscuous, drug users who are less virtuous is hard. Reasoning with people who have moral and religious convictions to have compassion for those they disdain takes its toll.
I run for those countless workers on the sidelines who every day, help. I run for the advocates who plead, cajole, beg and fight for vital resources. I run for the nurses and social workers who hold hands of the sick and dying and give them hope and love. I run for the youth who educate and inform and teach the next generation. I run for our seasoned elders who fought so bravely in the first years of the epidemic. And, I run for the countless individuals who are living with HIV.
Every step I take, every mile I add, every dollar I raise is for a stranger, yet through it all, they are my brothers and sisters. I run for the TEAM TO END AIDS (T2).