Last night, Alicia celebrated a very special milestone for her charity organization Keep a Child Alive: the 10th anniversary of the Black Ball fundraising gala. Thank you to everyone who help make this event possible and who has supported KCA over the past 10 years.
“I can’t believe it’s been ten years. When I look around the room, at this BEAUTIFUL Black Ball, I see many familiar faces that have been with us since the beginning. And that feels so good! Whether you were with us on day one, or just joined us today, I’m glad you’re here— because it’s going to take all of us, an army of dedicated, loving, compassionate, global-minded, forward-thinking citizens to complete this mission – the mission to ensure everyone living with HIV around the world receives the treatment they need to survive. That is the first step toward the end of AIDS.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is possible. And it’s possible within the next decade.
If you, in any way, doubt – look to our past. It tells us that anything is possible.
The Polio vaccine lifted the darkness of that epidemic in the 50s. A march on a bridge in Selma gave way to the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. Women’s Liberation transformed the home and workplace in the 70s and political and pop culture hammered at the Berlin Wall in the 80s.
In their own time these challenges had all the shadings of impossible. And yet, we look back on them today as certainties, as if they’d been there all along. Of course we have vaccines. Of course we have civil rights.
And of course, we will see the end of AIDS. But it is going to take work. It is going to take us.
In the 1980s, as the AIDS Pandemic swept into the public eye – our own government fell short of action. People were scared and uncertain.
In the ‘90s, major cultural and social movements gave a voice to people living with HIV and AIDS. We wanted answers. We wanted treatments. Politicians and drug companies responded. There was progress.
But that was here, not there.
Which brings me to 2001, when I met the incomparable Leigh Blake. We talked about the tragedy unfolding, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa – millions dying of AIDS because the drugs widely available in wealthy countries were not available there. I went to Africa and I saw firsthand the epidemic unfolding. I held motherless children in my arms and connected to lives far outside my own. I was OUTRAGED. That trip lit a fire. And it was there where I discovered one of my greatest purposes in life.
In the ten years since, I have seen the lives of children, families and communities totally transformed by the work of Keep a Child Alive.
We’ve come to know its not just about providing medicine. When treatment is provided with love, compassion, and nurturing support, children thrive.
Since we started KCA, significant progress has been made. We’ve touched the lives of more than 300,000 children and adults affected by HIV. People are more educated; treatment is becoming available to more people around the world.
But we have so much more work to do.
Seven out of ten children around the world are still not receiving the treatment they need. Something that I cannot, and we cannot accept. I look at my son’s face, and see so much hope and promise. I want that for every child.
So this is my Moon Shot.
I want to walk on a planet where all people have access to life-saving medicine. A planet rich in compassion, and short on stigma.
One where babies and HIV and AIDS can never live in the same sentence.
Then maybe we won’t need this fundraiser in 10 years.
The strange thing is…this brave new world looks a lot like the one we live in today. It just depends where you’re standing. Help me bring this world to Africa and India, and to the children and families there who need it so much.
We cannot stop now. I want to lead my son’s generation into an AIDS free generation— to look back and be proud of what this movement accomplished.
It comes down to us. We have to ask ourselves–is this going to be the year that we look back on and say, that’s when we turned things around.
This is our legacy.” – Alicia Keys