Meet Matt and Cameron From San Diego: Together for Good
By Kevin Maloney
March 30, 2011
Beyond Matt and Cameron's gorgeous looks they both have big hearts. They have passion for life, for one another, and for helping in the HIV/AIDS community. Through their website and brand S&E they are giving back to the community. Visit their site for updated blog entries, fitness and nutrition advice. Their stories are filled with encouragement, words of advice, inspiration, and hope. Without further delay it's my please to introduce you to Matt and Cameron; in their own words.
I am Matt Schiermeier (right in pic) and I want to tell you about myself, my goals, and my journey through some life changing experiences that ultimately gave me strength and left me inspired.
I was born and raised in a small Midwestern American town and quickly developed an appreciation for nature and wildlife. Growing up there, surrounded by nature's beauty was a blessing that I never took for granted. This appreciation of beauty has had a major impact on my life. Through working with and appreciating painting and drawing, I understand the way they have impacted society's present, past and future. Through a combination of what has intrigued me most, photography, fashion, music, and modeling, I am now creating my current and future projects. My focus here is on projects that will bring needed awareness to certain societal issues. This allows me to "give back" at the same time as pursuing what I love. My desire is to work on projects that will inspire people to act and contribute to a purpose driven cause. I feel that great things can be accomplished by allowing a collaboration of the minds and hearts of artistic people. The images within my site are both strong and unique and I hope they will provoke thought and make everyone want to act and "give back."
From a young age my family instilled in me very strong religious beliefs and values. I am a man who believes in prayer and the impact it can have on one's life. My family always taught me to treat others with respect and to fight for and defend those who are less fortunate. Growing up, my family was your typical American family, strong and grounded. I grew up with a younger brother and a brother who is my fraternal twin. My family unfortunately went through some very hard times during my developing teenage years. The family with the most solid of a foundation, as I knew it, cracked. Our very structured life with rules, guidelines, and overall discipline faded. My grandparents stepped in and tried to hold together what was left.
I, however, took this unexpected freedom and acted out in misguided ways. I ventured out on my own, at a very fast pace, with no sense of responsibility. Without an authority figure to guide me, I made certain decisions and choices that were ultimately not the best. This was a time in my life where I was naive, inexperienced, and thought of myself as invincible. Not knowing who to trust or who to follow, certain opportunities presented themselves and little did I know of the everlasting consequences that can come with ones decisions and actions. Some of my careless and unfortunate choices have created a label for me in which some people continue to perceive me. This perception, however, is far from the man I have become today.
As a young adult, I also found myself in a couple of relationships. Being young and again naive, I was very trusting of my partners in these relationships. Having someone loving you and then being dishonest with you never crossed my mind. A few relationships had come and gone and I began to become aware of some physical changes my body was going through. Still having a sense of invincibility I just ignored these changes and was sure nothing bad could ever happen to me. Over time, however, my body changed more and my weight was on a continuous downward slope. This was a point where even some friends were bringing my drop in weight to my attention. In my heart I knew something could be seriously wrong with me but my mind was refusing to accept this fact. Not only was my weight down at this point but a rash had appeared near my eye. I soon found myself at the eye doctor. The doctor took a look at the rash and conducted an eye examination. As he took a very close look deep into my eyes he asked if I had ever been tested for HIV/AIDS. I told him no and my heart sank. Those words, that thought, left me feeling empty, alone, and scared. With no sympathy, no remorse, the doctor confidently said, "the last time I saw what is happening to your eyes was in a patient who passed away two weeks later due to AIDS." He then stood up and left the room. A nurse then came in, comforted me as I cried, and waited with me for someone to pick me up from my appointment. I then knew that I had to take some responsibility in my life and take myself to get tested.
I scheduled the test, waited a week for the results, and prepared myself for the worst. The doctor informed me that I indeed was positive and unfortunately my T-cell count was below 200. This was an extra concern because when your T-cell count falls below 200 it is considered full blown AIDS and many people are unable to bring their T-cell count up at this point of the illness. I received support from my new doctor and was immediately placed on medication. I was young, afraid, and unsure who to turn to and who to confide in. My ability to place trust in anyone had been shattered so many times at this point in my life. I decided I would pull from the strength within myself and let God be in charge of my outcome. I realized there were two things that could happen now, I could let HIV/AIDS defeat me or I could defeat HIV/AIDS. Letting this defeat me was not an option.
I then decided to make healthy lifestyle changes. I began to eat healthier and began to train at a local gym. There were times I was down on myself and times of depression but with my lifestyle changes and my more positive train of thought, my T-cell count went from the lower 100s to an undetectable virus in a remarkable time. As I began to care more about myself and care more about the decisions I made, my friends and family began to come together and support my healthy lifestyle. I am a true believer that the mind is the most powerful tool we have in overcoming obstacles in our lives. If you remain confident, positive, and believe, then you can overcome. I kept this attitude or train of thought through this rough time and I keep it still today. HIV in my life has now become a maintenance issue. Something I know must be maintained and controlled but not something that I dwell on or let bring my positive outlook down. I began to educate myself on this issue and intimately feel a strong need to educate others.
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Rising Up and Speaking Out About HIV and Hepatitis C
Random things about me: I am kind, caring, respectful and wanting to make a difference/impact in the World. I've been to Australia, New Zealand and 13 countries in Europe, and have traveled and lived all over the United States. I have a Bachelor's degree in Health Services Management and will be working towards my Master's In Public Health. I am an uncle of two of the MOST adorable girls in the World, and have one brother. I am a Momma's boy, and it is hard to see my mother's health in such a deteriorated state -- she has severe COPD (from 40 years of smoking). In March 2010 I was told that I have HIV and a month later, with follow-up labs, was then told I also acquired hepatitis C (not through IV drug use). I aspire to great things. Stay tuned.
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