Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dondero Elementary Walks For AIDS

For the second consecutive year, Dondero Elementary School has been one of the top fundraising teams for AIDS Walk Las Vegas. Last year, the team raised more than $3,000. This year, they have already raised $2,361.17.

Their hard work and effort hasn’t gone unnoticed. Penn & Teller asked to match whatever Dondero Elementary School raises. The team is excited to learn the news, giving them inspiration to raise even more.

At the same time, Keith Frank, team captain and a fourth grade teacher at Dondero Elementary School, puts a human face on their efforts. For him, it isn't just about the money raised. It's about awareness and protecting his students.

Every year, he spends several months educating his class about HIV/AIDS. This includes age appropriate books and in-class discussions. He wants all of them to learn how to protect themselves from the disease while dismantling the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. AFAN staff members are also invited to meet the students in order to build awareness during an ice cream party. More than 150 students participate.

According to Frank, this year was especially impactful. When Jared Hafen, client services supervisor at AFAN, arrived, he asked that all of the students write down the four most important things in their lives — whether it be family members, pets, friends, etc.

“It is so encouraging to have elementary school kids ask questions about HIV,” said Hafen. “It gives me hope that with teachers like Mr. Frank we will be able to decrease the infection rate of HIV/AIDS in young adults.”

Then, after the students had finished writing down their lists, Hafen told the class his is HIV positive. And slowly, he walked around the room and took away every list that revealed who and what where most important to the students.

That's how HIV/AIDS changes your life, he said. It takes away everything you know about life, and your relationships with family members and friends will never be the same.

If you would Like to help Dondero Elementary in support of the AIDS Walk, please visit the AFAN website.

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