Brryan Jackson: 2009 Honoree
Brryan has been living with full-blown AIDS since the age of five. When Brryan was just 11 months old, his father, in the midst of separating from his mother, intentionally injected Brryan with HIV tainted blood in an attempt to avoid paying future child support. He was eventually convicted of first-degree assault and received the maximum sentence--life in prison. Brryan has had an incredibly difficult childhood and adolescence -- schools were reluctant to admit him, ignorant kids called him names and he constantly got into fights, eventually transferring schools to avoid being beaten up. Now Brryan volunteers as a staff member at Camp Kindle, a camp for young people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS that he formerly attended as a camper. He is also an active participant in Speak Out, Project Kindle's peer-to-peer speakers' bureau, regularly giving talks in schools around the country to educate students about what it's like to live with HIV/AIDS in hopes of combating social stigmas and improving the lives of those living with AIDS. On his 18th birthday, Brryan founded his own organization -- Hope Is Vital (HIV) -- to raise awareness, understanding and compassion for people infected with and suffering from HIV/AIDS.