Matt Fights For HIV ResearchReturn to The Insider: News & Views
October 31 2012
Matt at The Giant Acorn International Triathalon 2012
Matt Paterra contacted AIDS Research Alliance in September, hoping to help fundraise for HIV research while preparing for The Giant Acorn International 2012 triathlon in Bumpass, Virginia. He would be traveling from Pittsburgh, PA in early October to take on his first-ever Olympic distance triathlon. After loosing a best friend to AIDS, he felt motivated to speak up about the disease, challenge himself both mentally and physically, and raise money for an organization focused on HIV cure research.
We were thrilled when Matt chose ARA as the beneficiary of his Causes fundraiser, which raised over $1000 for our HIV cure research program. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to ask Matt a few questions about his inspiration for the event.
“About a year ago, my best friend Brian passed away because of AIDS. At first I was frustrated because he was not honest with himself nor with his friends about what he was dealing with, and he did not seek treatment. I realize now that there is a terrible stigma about this disease, and that people have pre-conceived notions about what it means to have HIV and what it means to contract it. So many people end up suffering because of these misconceptions that are attached to the disease.
This has become an important cause to me and I try to change the public understanding of what HIV is so people understand that it does not have to mean a death sentence. It is an unfortunate thing that happens, but you can go on to lead a full and wonderful life if you take the right steps and seek help. I want anyone who is dealing with the psychological aspects of the disease that Brian once had to know that it is not something to be so scared of. There are people that will love and support you regardless, and will not look at you any differently.
This was my first triathlon and also the one-year anniversary of Brian’s death. Brian was always involved with philanthropies and fundraising – he was constantly more concerned about using his efforts and talent to help others before ensuring his own financial stability. I thought this was very admirable and I felt that I could do the same by raising money for ARA.
The triathlon was an opportunity for me to challenge myself physically while taking the time to reflect on the loved ones I have lost, Brian, my grandmother, and my aunt, and the important lessons they have taught me- “to fight for those who are unable to do so for themselves.”
Check out Matt’s Causes fundraiser page to find out more about his journey.
Want to learn how you can make a difference in HIV research? Take a look at our Get Involved page!