It's hard to wrap your head around statistics. So when I asked Robb Reichard, Executive Director of the AIDS Fund to make the AIDS/HIV epidemic real for me - he revealed that he lost someone recently to the disease. Death due to AIDS has become less common these days because of the treatments available. If caught early HIV isn't a death sentence. But there it was. A death due to AIDS. At the end of the interview I asked Robb to describe his friend so that we would have a sense of what the world lost in his passing. As he described how vibrant and alive his friend was in life - I lost it. Completely. Not tear wiping, misty eyed emotion but full blown, heaving sobs. For minutes as the recording continued Robb and my other guest HIV educator Terrie Hawkins came around to my side of the console and comforted me.
Eventually - I managed to pull myself together and realized Robb's words brought home the weight of the losses I've been living with over the past year. I've been to more funerals this year than I care to mention. Some were the unavoidable conclusion of the aging process but a number were from conditions that might have been treatable. We can discuss numbers all day long but when we talk about the people we lose - those numbers start to mean something. It all came flooding back - the loss to the world of people I care about - and for a few minutes - I just couldn't handle it.
Here's my interview with Robb Reichard and Terrie Hawkins of the AIDS Fund which is sponsoring their annual AIDS Walk/Run Sunday October 20th. J. Whyatt Mondesire and I will be broadcasting live from the Philadelphia Museum of Art starting at 6:30 AM. Oh - and I cut out the five minutes of gut-wrenching sobs - but I left the words I said immediately after as I finally caught my breath. Listen here.
For more info on the AIDS Fund Walk/Run - click here.
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When you meet PA State Senator Leanna Washington you see a smart, beautiful and powerful woman. It's hard to imagine forty five years ago - she was married to a man who beat her so severely he broke her ribs and took her to emergency to make sure she didn't tell anyone how she was injured so severely. Washington was beaten regularly and emotionally abused even more. In the end it wasn't a sense of self preservation but a fear for her children that inspired her to pack what few belongings she was able to muster and escape to another city. Washington traveled a long and difficult road to get to where she is today and she's dedicated her life to making sure other women get the support and help they need to deal with domestic abuse. State Senator Leanna Washington is sponsoring the 6th Annual Walk/Run to End Domestic Violence on Saturday October 26th. Check out the video below for more info and be sure to go to our community page tomorrow for a Digital Town Hall on Domestic Violence.
For more information click HERE Follow me on Twitter @loraineballard
Martino Cartier is a shy and quiet man. Not! Actually the celebrity hairstylist founded an organization called FriendsAreByYourSide.com. Martino provides high quality wigs to women who've lost their hair to chemotherapy at no charge. He's having a benefit to raise money for the cause called a Night of Wigs & Wishes on November 3, 2012 at Lucien's Manor in Berlin, NJ. There will be celebrity guests including Mary Scirarrone from the Cake Boss and the entire cast of Jerseylicious.
Which brings us to “Watch Cancer Burn in (H-E-double Hockey Sticks) Oh heck – “Watch Cancer Burn in Hell!” Martino is creating a video that will be shown at the benefit. This Sunday he's inviting anyone affect by cancer whether you're a survivor, are living with it or lost a loved one - to come to 359 Chapel Heights Road in Sewell NJ on Sunday at 6:30. He'll have the word "Cancer" suspended by a lift over a bonfire and during a performance of Katy Perry's "Roar - "Cancer" will be dropped into the fire. For directions call 856-582-0222. To find out more about a Night of Wigs & Wishes listen to my interview below or go to FriendsAreByYourSide.com.
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Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. I have friends surviving breast cancer and most likely you do too. Knowing these brave, beautiful and powerful women reminds me that we are not defined by a disease and breast cancer is far from a death sentence. To mark October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month I hosted a Digital Town Hall on Breast Cancer and our guests had these empowering messages for all of us.
If you want to see the complete town hall - click here and if you're a women - don't be afraid - early detection can save your life.
Follow me on Twitter @loraineballard.
When Fox 29's veteran news anchor and reporter Joyce Evans went on Twitter Sunday - she posted the tweet heard around the world.
I understand how brutal the social networking space can be. Write the wrong thing and your entire reputation is at risk. Twitter is a dialogue that allows folks to interact directly in real time so when something goes viral good or bad - it can spread like wildfire which is exactly what happened to this tweet. It literally became national news with a great deal of negative backlash. Some of it over the top.
In a recent article about the hazards of social networks, Forbes Magazine quotes Jeff Wilson, Partner/Chief Customer Experience Designer at Sensei Marketing, who argues that social media equips the average person with four “factors empowering bad behavior, particularly against companies:” (1) No Guilt (2) The Mob (3) Relative Anonymity and (4) No Accountability.
I can't imagine that Joyce Evans intentionally meant to trivialize a tragedy. I also understand how people might see the tweet as sensationalized and in terrible taste. Here's the thing. I have the benefit of knowing Evans and her work over the years. She’s a fine reporter and one of the few who sincerely cares about the community.
Everyone has the right to respond but what bothered me most was the mob mentality that Wilson spoke of and how many of the responders descended into ugly abuse. Up until now Evans only has about 200 tweets which tells me she's either relatively new to the game or like many - just ramping up. I can't say whether this was a factor but there is tremendous pressure on members of the media and entertainment to come up with a hot hook to promote page views, readership or whatever will attract attention.
This week offered a harsh lesson in the rough and tumble world of social media. Joyce Evans' only consolation may be the fickle nature of the beast. Just wait until the next selfie from Amanda Bynes or a twerk from Miley Cyrus. Then the great beast of Twitter will move on to the next big thing.
Follow me on Twitter @loraineballard (but be gentle)