December 1984 forever altered the lives of Jeanne White-Ginder and her family. Her son, Ryan, was diagnosed with AIDS, having contracted HIV during one of the many blood transfusions he received to treat his hemophilia. Until then, AIDS had been considered by the general public a "gay White disease," and Ryan's fight to lead a normal life and attend school ironically thrust him and Jeanne into the media spotlight. After Ryan passed away in 1990, Jeanne remained a tireless HIV/AIDS activist, testifying in support of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, established just months after Ryan's death and named in his memory. Jeanne speaks regularly to audiences nationwide about her experiences on the frontlines of the AIDS epidemic in its early years, and the role that HIV/AIDS stigma plays in fueling the epidemic today.
Dennis Creedon Named 2017 Richard May Award Recipient
This year’s recipient, Dennis Creedon, has been an inspirational force within the HIV community since 1986 when the results of a Western blot test came back positive. He is currently the Client Advocate at the Infectious Diseases Institute Clinic at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. As the Client Advocate, Creedon acts as liaison between the client population, counselors, and medical staff. Given his first-hand knowledge and experience, Creedon offers a truly empathetic perspective to the client population. “Just saying I’m 30 years positive helps relieve a lot of stress and anxiety, especially with newly positive people,” Creedon said.
In addition to his role as Client Advocate, Creedon runs the Two Spirits Plus support group for those affected by HIV and is a Membership Committee Chair for the HIV/Hepatitis Planning Council. Two Spirits Plus meets once a month and gathers for various activities such as bowling, kayaking, zip-lining, camping, etc. “I can’t emphasize enough that people who become HIV positive feel like their lives are over or feel like they need to hide under a rock—still—because they are so afraid of the stigma and the rejection that might come. So, it helps to have other people that have worked through that help them.”
Creedon says he’s honored to receive the Richard May Award and feels encouraged to do more. “We can’t afford to relax,” Creedon elaborates. “I don’t want people to think it’s all under control. Even though we work hard towards that goal, we can’t think we’ve got it whipped because it’s not; prevention is the best treatment.”
This year’s Richard May Award will be presented to Creedon at the Positive Heroes Reception, Tuesday, July 25th, at 5:30pm inside the Grand Ballroom of the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. The event will feature keynote speaker Jeanne White-Ginder, one of the most prominent HIV activists today. White-Ginder will share her family’s story on the fight against HIV and stigma as well as her son’s legacy through the Ryan White Care Act which offers financial support to over 52% of Americans living with HIV. For Oklahomans affected by HIV, this equates to close to $10 million annually to help cover the cost of clinical treatment as well as expensive medications.
Criteria for the Richard May Award
Descriptions & Guidelines Annual Richard May Award was established by the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund to honor Richard May, a founder of the organization who passed away in March 2000. The annual award will be presented on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, at the Positive Heroes Reception at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.
Purpose The Richard May Award is given annually in recognition of an individual who has given, in an exceptional way, of their time and talents to promote HIV/AIDS education, prevention, care, and treatment service. Recipients exemplify quiet strength and compassion, never seeking recognition, which was the spirit of Richard May. The award is a way for Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund to acknowledge the long-term and consistent contributions of individuals in the field of HIV/AIDS.
Who May Be Nominated Nominees can be a volunteer or paid staff, a community advocate, a case manager, a counselor, doctor, nurse, HIV community educator, social worker, or anyone striving to meet the challenges of HIV/AIDS at the local level. The nominee should have a minimum of five years experience working in the field of HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma.
Requirements Please complete the attached form and provide a short narrative that describes your nominee and the qualities they possess which would make them eligible for this honor. You may include examples of leadership, advocacy or client care that demonstrates a commitment to prevention or services in HIV/AIDS (media articles, letters of support, etc). Limit the support materials to no more than three pages.
Past Recipients of the Richard May Award
2001 Joan Foreman & Sunshine Schillings
2002 Sister Gail Addis
2003 Mary Deane Streich
2004 Pat Hernandez
2005 Terry Dennison
2006 Cookie Arbuckle
2007 Jackie Cooper
2008 Dr. Aline Brown
2009 Sonja Martinez
2010 Kay Holladay
2011 Dr. Ronald A. Greenfield
2012 J. David Odle
2013 Cindy Boerger
2014 Robert Painter
2015 Gaila Smalley
2016 Mary Arbuckle