Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Quilts Patch Families Together Valdosta State to Host Memorial AIDS Project

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Quilts Patch Families Together Valdosta State to Host Memorial AIDS Project

Article excerpt

Their loved ones will never know the comfort of these quilts,

constructed too late to quell the chills of a life-robbing

disease. Nonetheless, they work on them two Saturdays a month at

Valdosta State University.

The quiltmaking project is sponsored by students in Valdosta

State University master's degree program in social work. These

three quilts and at least three others will be dedicated when

the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt comes to the college

Friday.

"A lot of people, especially in this area, don't even know

about the quilt," said Sona Walker, student spokesperson for the

project.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt began in 1987 and now is made up of

more than 40,000 panels from all 50 states and 40 countries.

Only 504 of the three-foot by six-foot panels will be displayed

at Valdosta State University. These will be primarily for those

AIDS victims in the southern states.

Several celebrity panels, including those for Rock Hudson, Ryan

White, Liberace, Robert Reed hand Arthur Ashe will be included

in the display.

The quilting bees were started to give Georgia families a

chance to include their quilts in the display.

"We wanted to allow people a venue to express their feelings

when a loved one dies," Walker said. "Especially of this

disease, because there is such a stigma about it."

Janet Dickson of Lake Park wants people to see her son's quilt

and think about the disease that killed him. "I wanted it

personal, because he was a person," she said. There are no

bright patches of cloth, no pretty patterns, simply cloth

transfers of documents: honorable discharge from the Air Force,

the last Mother's Day card he scrawled his name on, graduation

pictures.

It is as if someone had taken her son's life story and laid it

out on a bed. His name, Robert Paul Bakland, June 25, 1955-June

12, 1995 is centered in black ink.

"I didn't approve of his homosexuality, but I still loved him.

He was my son," Dickson said, her voice quavering.

"There are so many people who aren't homosexuals with AIDS,"

she said. "It's there whether they want to believe it or not. If

some of these teenagers could watch somebody die, it might make

a difference."

AIDS attacks and weakens the immune system and leaves sick

people vulnerable to diseases that kill them. Experts say

virtually anyone with the human immunodeficiency virus that

causes AIDS will die of complications of the disease.

Dodi Carroll, whose 57-year-old father, Frank LaFayette Wood,

died of AIDS, talks about the disease every chance she gets. She

wears a red ribbon when she's in public, hoping people will ask

her about it. She talks about AIDS prevention, everywhere, even

in the grocery store. …

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