Active philanthropy. This is the Selfless team’s motto. It’s more about donating – it’s about changing the way we think and approach doing good for the community. A couple weeks ago, I attended a fundraising event to help out a friend of a friend – Jesse Banwart – in raising money for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. He took on the challenge of training for his very first marathon in this year’s Chicago Marathon and is dedicating his time and efforts to spread the awareness of AIDS. This was the first time I’ve met him and seeing how many people attended the event and helped out in donating was heartwarming. It was a night full of laughter and new memories.
I’ve witnessed some marathon and half marathon action, especially by our own Selfless team member, Joey, and seeing that “winning” face even with their exhaustion was completely thrilling to witness.
The fact that Jesse is dedicating himself to a healthy lifestyle and busily training for a 26 something mile run all to fight against a heavily spreading disease is so wonderful! I got a chance to speak with him more about his endeavor.
E: What made you choose the AIDS foundation in Chicago?
J: AIDS is such a dirty disease. Not only in the toll it takes on its carriers, but also in its slanderous name. It’s a disease that is so stigmatized that it takes a toll I never thought it would. My getting to know a lot of new people from the team, I discovered a side of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) that I didn’t think about before. Of course they do a lot in the fields of research and prevention, but most importantly, they are in the business of making people feel human again. AIDS is a disease that can very easily make people feel ostracized and alone. AFC is a pathway to normalcy that so many people need.
Fortunately, I have not contracted the disease. However, as a gay man, I am at the highest risk for contracting it. I know that any of these heartbreaking stories I’ve heard could one day be mine. I want to do all I can for the cause because I know that there are people out there who need it. I run because others can’t.
E: We heard this is your first marathon. What challenges/obstacles do you feel like you’ve overcome during your training?
J: Yes, this is my first marathon! I think the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome is getting over the fear of pushing myself. When I know I have a long way to go, you attitude about the run will make or break it. Trying to stay positive is essentially the key to knocking out the long runs.
Jesse has a goal of raising $1,200 for AFC and is nearly there! July 16th is the deadline! If you could please help out AFC and Jesse in his philanthropic endeavor! You can visit his TEAM TO END AIDS site to donate.
Also, it’d be cool to see you guys at the marathon on the sidelines rooting for them!