What does perseverance look like? Ask Aaron Singleton and he’ll tell you it was his father. Aaron’s dad passed away from AIDS-related illness in 2011 – that’s what inspired his current activism within the HIV and AIDS community today.
Aaron is just freshly back from the Death Race, a race wherein you’re not told when it starts, when it ends, and you’re not told what it will entail. A race so insidious, the organizers WANT you to fail, and encourage you to quit at any time.
Aaron took on the Death Race in honour of his late father, and to raise funds for HIV Edmonton. He said, when people asked why on earth he would subject himself to such a thing, Aaron said it “was for HIV Edmonton” and took the opportunity to connect with them about “their experiences living with HIV and how it has affected their lives”.
“It was incredibly touching,” he says.
Touching is listening to Aaron remember his father, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2003. “He didn’t let it define his life or who he was,” Aaron says, “he simply lived the life that he wanted to and kept on fighting until his last breath.”
With that spirit, Aaron has embraced the role of HIV activist. Aaron knows our vision well, Zero, and sees stigma as the biggest barrier to the achievement of that vision. He witnessed his father suffer the impacts of HIV-related stigma, as “many of his closest friends disassociated themselves from him, even though he was the same man they supposedly loved”.
I asked Aaron what his social justice kryptonite was, and he said he has “always had the attitude that all people are equal, and deserve the same respect as everyone else…when I see people being mistreated, it pains me…when respect goes out the window, society crumbles”.
If you’d like to meet this incredible Hero for Zero, join us at the Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life on September 19, 2015 at McIntyre Park – Aaron has agreed to be our keynote speaker for the event!