May 23, 2018

On today's show, Bev talks with Donna Drakes, the Executive Director of H.E.R.O. for Children, a nonprofit in Georgia focused on the quality of life for children with HIV/AIDS.  Later in the show, Bruce Gale brings us an interview with Sam Davidson, a 10th grader in Los Angeles, who is on a mission to raise awareness and money for the Ambassadors of Hope Project and the "Be the Match" program to wipe out cancer.

It can be easy to confuse HIV and AIDS. They are different diagnoses, but they do go hand-in-hand: HIV is a virus that can lead to a condition called AIDS, also known as stage 3 HIV.

At one time, a diagnosis of HIV or AIDS was considered a death sentence. Thanks to research and the development of new treatments, people with HIV at any stage today are living long, productive lives. An HIV-positive person who adheres to regular antiretroviral treatment can expect to live a near-normal life span.

HIV continues to be a major global public health issue. 

According to UNAIDS, there were approximately 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2016. Of these, 2.1 million were children under the age of 15.  It is estimated that there were 160,000 new infected children for the year.

Most of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2016, bringing the total number of people who have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic to 35.0 million.

In the U.S., an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV, including around 166,000 who are unaware of their status. It is estimated that 30% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who are living with undiagnosed HIV, making increasing access to testing and counseling a fundamental priority for HIV prevention.

Children with HIV can lead fairly normal lives if they receive treatment and take their medicines. About 5 to 10 percent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers are infected in utero — before they’re born — and about 10 to 15 percent are infected right at the time of delivery. A baby could also contract the virus if an infected mother breastfeeds.

According to the CDC, young people ages 13 to 24 accounted for more than 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses in 2014.

This brings us to today's nonprofit, H.E.R.O. for Children...

H.E.R.O. for Children remains the only organization in Georgia solely focused on improving the quality of life for children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS through enriching programs, unforgettable experiences, and connections with the community.    @heroforchildreninc

The nonprofit began from the idea of two idealistic, young entrepreneurs who wanted to take their international experiences in Kenya and Brazil, working alongside children with HIV/AIDS, and create an organization for similar children in their own home state of Georgia.   Under this umbrella they offer support through mentoring relationships, life skills development, recreational activities and expanded life exposure via a variety of opportunities and experiences.

H.E.R.O. currently serves more than 350 kids through approximately 18,000 hours of quality of life care with more than 250 volunteers.  

Bev sat down with the Donna Drakes, the Executive Director of the organization, to talk about the programs they offer for these children.

Sam with Ambassadors of Hope Project
Sam with Ambassadors of Hope Project

On today’s Kid Heroes segment, Bruce Gale talks with Sam Davidson, a 10th grader in Los Angeles, who is on a mission to raise awareness and money for the Ambassadors for Hope Project and the "Be the Match" program to wipe out cancer.  

Sam and his sister Morgan, who founded the organization, lost both of their grandparents in a short period of time from cancer. The mission of the Project is to inspire teens to help save lives through the City of Hope National Medical Center and Be the Match National Marrow Registry. 

The original goal was as a one day event (Cuts for a Cure) and has morphed into a lifelong journey. Throughout this journey, Morgan carefully mentored her younger brother Sam to take the reigns when she went off to college. For the past 3 years Sam has added his own passion and ideas. He decided to transform the Club into a Project, allowing teens from different schools and communities to come together to reach the same goal. 

To date, they have raised over $60,000 for The City of Hope, a leading cancer research center . They have registered over 600 potential life saving marrow donors for Be the Match, The National Marrow Donor Program.