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Dominican University Hosts AIDS Quilt

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Pictured: Rae Lewis Thornton

Dominican University in suburban Chicago River Forest will serve as a host site for the AIDS Memorial Quilt Dec. 1-3. Dominican's display of panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt, to be held in the Igini Sports Forum, will be the largest in the Chicago area. An opening ceremony will be held Dec. 1 at noon and the Quilt will be available for viewing until 7 p.m., and again on Tuesday, Dec. 2 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Dec. 3 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a growing collection of approximately 50,000 six-foot by three-foot panels commemorating the lives of those who have died of AIDS. Ron Galt, director of Dominican's University Ministry, spearheaded the effort to bring the panels to the Dominican University campus two years ago and again this year in an attempt to raise awareness of the fact that AIDS is still very present on a national and global scale.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt began in 1987 in San Francisco when Cleve Jones, an AIDS and gay rights activist, gathered friends to begin sewing something of beauty as a tribute to those who had died of AIDS. The first 2,000 quilt panels, illustrated with the names and symbols, were displayed in October 1987 on the Capitol Mall in Washington, DC. Today, the Quilt has more than 50,000 panels and has traveled around the world.

For more information about the AIDS Quilt display, call Ron Galt at (708) 524-6683.

As part of AIDS Awareness Week, Dominican University will host a free lecture by notable AIDS activist Rae Lewis Thornton Monday, Dec. 1 1 at 6 p.m. in the Social Hall, 7900 W. Division Street, River Forest.

Named by Ebony Magazine as one of "America's 57 Most Intriguing People of 2002," Thornton has consistently used her life to shatter the common myths and stereotypes surrounding who and how one can become infected with the HIV virus that most often results in AIDS and death.

In 1986, during a routine blood drive in her hometown of Washington, D.C., Thornton was diagnosed HIV positive. At the age of 23, she was forced to make changes in her life that ultimately ended a promising career in politics. She served as Sen. Carol Moseley Braun's 1992 senatorial campaign advance coordinator, national youth director of Rev. Jesse Jackson's 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns and Illinois State youth coordinator for Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential campaign before being forced to retire in 1993 as a result of her failing health.

Since retiring she has used her oratory skills and personal experiences to bring attention to the AIDS crisis in the U.S. and the world. She has been featured on the cover of Essence and in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Dayton Daily News. She has appeared on Nightline with Ted Koppel and on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In addition, Thornton received an Emmy Award for a WBBM-TV series of first-person stories on living with AIDS.

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