Today is a twofer, but get your Kleenex ready.
Yesterday was World AIDS Day. In honor of the day, I selected amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research as my charity of the week.
Ironically, earlier this week I was listening to a Radio Lab podcast while running called Patient Zero (the air date was 11/15 so it had nothing to do with World AIDS Day). The podcast had one segment on finding patient zero for HIV. Spoiler Alert - it's not the French flight attendant as portrayed in the mini-series And The Band Played On. No one knows the identity of patient zero - but the leading theory is called, "The Cut Hunter". The story goes something like this - In the early 1900s an African hunter killed a chimpanzee. While he was (how do I say this?) butchering the chimp, he cut himself and the chimp's blood got into the hunter's blood stream. As really, really bad luck might have it this chimp was infected with a strain of HIV (called SIV) that was able to mutate, survive and thrive in humans.
According to the podcast, twelve strains of SIV have passed from chimps, gorillas and monkeys to humans, but only this one (from a chimp) has manage to survive and thrive in humans. The podcast further went on to try and locate chimp zero and they traced it back to two forms of monkey SIV that combined in the stomach of a chimp (apparently chimpanzees eat monkeys).
I found all this research extremely fascinating which is why I decided to donate $25 to amfAR. As a foundation, they are dedicated to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, improving treatment for those with HIV/AIDS and ultimately eradicating the virus.
OK, so oddly enough all the HIV/AIDS chimp-eating-monkey stuff was NOT the sad part of today's Filanthropy Friday. (Warning to those with fragile hearts, please do not continue).
My well-known (at least to my blog readers) friend, Liz, has some good friends in Chicago (Sam and Suzie Tinaglia) with a son (Sam Jr.) who has been fighting leukemia most of his thirteen years. It went into remission for a while, but it has returned.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, the Chicago Bears visited Sam Jr. (and other children) at the Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago. It was featured on the local news:
I cannot say it enough (I've said it so many times on so many previous Fridays), there's nothing I wouldn't do to help a parent with a sick child. I'm so thankful that I've never had to experience the pain of a sick child (it actually makes me grateful for Cub's tantrums) - I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy.
Being the thoughtful person Liz is, she wrote to Suzie (Sam Jr.'s mom) and asked if there was a specific charity they would like money donated to in Sam's honor and she selected Bear Necessities. Their mission is to the eliminate pediatric cancer and to help those families (both financially and emotionally) dealing with it.
Reading about Bear Necessities absolutely breaks my heart. It was started by a woman who lost her eight year old son (Barrett "Bear") to cancer. Prior to her son's death, they had discussed starting the organization because her son (at such a young age) had more concern for other patients than himself. He and his mother realized there were gaps in the emotional treatment provided to families dealing with cancer.
I donated $25 to Bear Necessities in Sammy Tinaglia's honor. With all my heart, I hope he beats the crap out cancer.