Hallmark Employee, Cathy Bone's Reason for Walking
Verlin was my younger brother, but to me, he was like a big brother. He was always looking after me, our sister Leslie, and our entire family. In the mid-80s Verlin lost his partner to HIV. I watched the emotional struggles of losing someone you love and had the realization that he would be fighting the same battle. At that time, being HIV positive was considered a death sentence; there weren’t many options available. You wanted to deny it and be hopeful that a cure would be discovered or at least a treatment to extend their lives. Verlin kept himself busy by volunteering time and supplies to a nearby home that cared for AIDS patients.
I lost Verlin in the mid-90s. The onset came when he was exposed to a water-borne parasite that his body could not fight. He became unable to work, but was blessed to find a partner who, along with our mom, helped care for him. Being uninsured, he joined clinical trials. To no avail, less than two years later, Verlin lost his fight. Later that year, better-formulated medications were made available through the development of HAART, the HIV/AIDS Alliance for Region Two, Inc. If Verlin could have held on for another year, he might still be here. I still keep in touch with his partner. We all continue to miss Verlin’s playfulness, love, and generous spirit.
I had never participated in the AIDS walk, but 3 years ago I found myself at an informational meeting. It wasn’t until I saw the date for the walk that I had an epiphany… it would have been Verlin’s 50th birthday. I told myself right there that I needed to be involved.
At the walk, everyone was so welcoming. It was the perfect way to celebrate life and remember those we’ve lost. There was great music, people on stage, and so many people throughout the community coming out to show their support. There was a great spirit in the air, with everyone fighting together to be triumphant against HIV. It was a really fun group to be with. I was proud that Hallmark was so involved and dedicated to this cause. A flag was made to honor my brother, and my daughter, Brooke, joined me in carrying the flag to honor her uncle.
This will be my 3rd year to participate and my youngest daughter, Jess, will also walk with us. Our Hallmark group goal is to have at least 55 walkers and to raise $11,000. If you can’t walk that day, you can be a “Virtual Walker” with an online fundraising page to support your AIDS Walk family. The proceeds from this walk stay right here in Kansas City.
Groups in Kansas City the proceeds are directed to include:
Good Samaritan Project: A group focused on providing advocacy, care and education to those affected by HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.
Kansas City CARE Clinic: The clinic promotes health and wellness to people without access to basic care.
Hope Care Center: The center is a long-term care nursing facility for people challenged by HIV/AIDS.
SAVE, Inc.: Provides housing solutions to empower socially and medically disadvantaged people to improve their health and lead stable lives with dignity.
I hope you can join me and the many other Hallmarkers walking this year at the AIDS Walk in Kansas City on Saturday, April 29 at Theis Park. Registration starts at 8am, activities begin at 9am, and the walk begins at 10am.
-Story written by Hallmark Editor Katie Rensing
- DSDavid Schulman
- DBDwight Brown
- MCMac Carruthers