On March 24, 2011, the Xi Chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, Inc. hosted their fourth annual One Heartland Banquet. For those of you who don’t know, a banquet is not a fancy dinner and dance, but a fundraiser supporting a very serious cause. Every sorority on campus supports a cause, and this one is for HIV/AIDS, which has no cure; although, they do have medicine to treat HIV, but there is no cure of vaccine for AIDS. Sadly, it affects millions of people worldwide every year.
All of the proceeds from this banquet went to One Heartland summer camp. In this summer camp, for one week, children affected with HIV/AIDS get to have fun and interact with other children who are going through the same thing as they are. In 2003, SIA adopted One Heartland as its national philanthropy and has been raising awareness of HIV/AIDS ever since. Every semester, SIA holds a fundraiser to raise money. This allows it to sponsor a few children to go to the One Heartland summer camp who cannot afford it and helps One Heartland continue to offer their services.
The summer camp was founded in 1993 by Neil Willenson, whose mission was for to allow children infected with HIV/AIDS to get a chance to see that there are other people who are going though the same thing and to let them be normal kids for one week. One Heartland is located in 40 different states, and all of its programs and services are free of charge to all participants. It serves thousands of suffering and those at risk of being infected in the United States. The foundation also helps those affected by poverty, grief, foster care, Tourette’s syndrome and other obstacles.
Throughout this program, the sisters of SIA did an excellent job of showing us how devastating this disease really is and how to take precautions. They read letters from participants who have attended One Heartland, and innocent children explained how much pain they were in and how people were treating them differently just because this disease affected them. HIV/AIDS is a problem throughout the world, and millions of adults, children and even babies are infected with it every year. At the end of 2009, there was an estimated 33.3 million people infected with HIV/AIDS.
After leaving the program, students said it was “informative and supporting a great cause.” Someone even said, “I highly recommend attending this banquet next semester to support this cause and [to] help change the lives of people affected by this disease.” You can help support One Heartland summer camp and give these children an amazing opportunity to not think about their disease for one week, when they can enjoy themselves and have fun. If you are interested, you can visit One Heartland’s website, www.oneheartland.org , to get more information on their summer camp, to donate money or even to volunteer as a counselor at the summer camp.