The 27th AIDS Walk Washington, the annual fundraising event for community health center Whitman-Walker Health and its partner organizations, has announced that it will honor the late Sean Sasser, an HIV activist and educator, at the walk, set for Saturday, Oct. 26, at Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington. Organizers will present the award to Michael Kaplan, Sasser's surviving partner and the president of AIDS United at the walk.
Sasser, who died of mesothelioma in August at age 44, gained notoriety when his then-partner, HIV activist Pedro Zamora, appeared on MTV's The Real World: San Francisco, and the two had a much-publicized commitment ceremony prior to Zamora's death. Following Zamora's death, Sasser continued his work as an HIV/AIDS educator. Sasser served as a member of President Bill Clinton's Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS and worked with various organizations such as Health Initiatives for Youth (HIFY), the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and the AIDS Alliance for Children Youth & Families.
''Sean made a difference in the world – not for what he said – but how he lived – how he shared his life, himself and his love,'' Kaplan said in a statement. ''Letting his love and passion drive in relationships, in mentoring kids, in his cooking or in speaking out on HIV – he was powerful – by simply being. I know he would be proud to receive this honor and I thank Whitman-Walker for acknowledging his life and work.''
''There is no denying that Sean played a pivotal role in public perception of HIV,'' Don Blanchon, the executive director of Whitman-Walker Health, said in a statement. ''Sean showed the world a face of HIV it had never seen before: a happy, healthy young man living his life, falling in love, and working to make a difference in the lives of others. His story was an inspiration to millions of people whether they had been touched by HIV or not. Whitman-Walker Health is profoundly honored to recognize the life and work of Sean Sasser with the annual Courage Award.''
For more information about AIDS Walk Washington or to register, visit aidswalkwashington.org.