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Michael Quercio
34, gay, HIV/AIDS national spokesperson, corporate professional, high school HIVeducator and curriculum developer, selected by President Bill Clinton to be a representative for all affected/infected with HIV/AIDS.

 

It was a bittersweet irony for Michael when President-elect Bill Clinton responded to a conversation they had shared by inviting him to the inaugural events in Washington, D.C. in 1993. The conversation was about a student of Michael's who had suggested, in the regard of people with AIDS, "Let's kill them all."

For Michael, the horror of that suggestion was reason to advocate energetically not only for his own future but for all people living with HIV/AIDS. And he did. A persuasive spokesperson, he became a nationally respected representative for those whose rights are challenged as they battle against this disease.

 

A hospitalization with viral meningitis was just another setback that Michael faced after his diagnosis. Sharing his home and his life with his boyfriend, Joe, he counted on the diverse skills of this friend when he needed help. Michael's tireless activism fueled Joe's efforts. When they sat together on the sofa, they would intertwine their legs - difficult to tell where one began and the other ended!

When Michael spoke publicly about HIV and AIDS, using his own story as the inspiration of his powerful presentation, he lit a candle as a tribute to all people who have died with AIDS.

Its flickering brilliance is a shadow of Michael's own. Michael died in 1995.


Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

-Paul, Corinthians 9:24

 

A marathon runner, Michael prepared for the Boston Marathon annually. When he was tested for HIV in March, he had to wait 15 days for his test results. He hoped for two things; that he would run in the marathon, and that his test results would be negative. Neither, as he reflects back, was a very well thought out priority.

Of this, he would say, "I am pulled to a more important race. I may wither like a laurel wreath won on race day, but my impact will outlive any wreath. The bigger race is for eternal salvation. I will last forever."

Waiting for his test results, Michael visited The Abbey retreat looking for solace. At a vespers service, he heard Paul's message to the Corinthians.

He was inspired to run the race.


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