This special guest post is by an ASA client who wanted to share his experience:

Brad Franklin.fwHow did I come up with the idea for a fundraiser for the 2014 AIDS Walk? Well, you need to know a little about me first. December 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm became a day that I would never forget. In a room in a building I was unfamiliar with and a person whom I had never met before, I heard the words “You are positive.” My initial reply was “that can’t be right, do these tests ever fail, no no no let’s test again.” Another prick of my finger and what was the longest 20 minutes of my life, I found myself holding not only my breath; but the tears back from my eyes. You see I was in a relationship, which, granted, had its short comings and had recently ended. I truly loved him, and I gave my all so how could I be positive? He promised me time and time again there was no chance; he said he had been tested prior to our relationship beginning. “No, I am sorry Brad, but this test also says you are positive for HIV.” I let go of the tears and I felt every part of my heart, soul, and mind that could experience pain begin to break. My life had just changed.

That was almost a year ago, and man, what a journey it has been. These past ten months have been so difficult, challenging, and hard to sort through, cope with, and learn about something I never thought I would deal with. However, along this road I have met some amazing people who have helped me, strengthened me and lifted me up to turning this nightmare into a livable and manageable reality.

My idea for a fundraiser was sparked because I started thinking that I have a voice in the community. I am a bartender at a local gay bar, and I have the ability to reach so many people who could possibly be at risk for HIV. After all, I have now seen that HIV can affect just about anyone; it does not choose based off sex, orientation, color, or even love. So what I could I do? Well that’s simple: I can talk. I am after all my mother’s son, and I have the gift or never shutting up. So, I decided to go public with my story and let everyone see me go through the challenges newly diagnosed HIV-positive people are faced with.

Brad Walk FundraiserThe idea was simple. Educate those without HIV on what it means and inspire those with it to fight back, live openly, and love living their lives. I decided that throwing an event where I could donate all of tips earned to the AIDS Walk would not only benefit the charity organization that has helped me so much, but also get people in the community involved and aware. I want people to see a real person speaking out in front of them on this subject matter, and I want them to be able to get involved in helping stop HIV. So, not only can they come out and enjoy their typical Friday night at V Nightclub (which is graciously helping me sponsor and promote this event) but they can also hear a story of someone’s face they recognize and have a chance to tip knowing that money can help so many.

I feel this is the best way to promote awareness. I believe talking and being truthful is how we can cure HIV. I say what so many are afraid to say, because I hope that my story may spare someone from the path I’ve had to go down. I also want to be involved with ASA because they have helped me so much and throwing the charity event seemed like a great way to make this all happen.

Friday, October 10th, V nightclub will be presenting “Brad’s First Year of Fighting,” a charity event to benefit the 2014 AIDS Walk. Through telling my story and donating all of my tips, I hope to be part of a change to help stop HIV. The bar and a few other bartenders have also decided to donate money that night as well. It’s a simple thing. Patrons can come out, have a cocktail, learn about HIV, have a chance to tip me (knowing that money goes to the charity) and identify with someone they know as their bartender and, to many, friend. Small steps can cover big ground if done with a pure heart and good intent as a team. Let’s make some money for an amazing charity, get involved in our community, have a great time, and give HIV a run for its money.