While Boulder County is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a small group gathered over the weekend to shed light on another pandemic.

On Sunday evening, the Boulder County AIDS Project partnered with the Interfaith Aids Coalition to host an in-person candlelight memorial to remember people living with HIV who have died.

On the steps of the BCAP building on Pine street, a group of about 30 listened as a list of names of former BCAP clients who have since passed away after living with AIDS was read out.

The list was long.

Barb Cardell brought her own candle, decorated with seashells, to the candlelight memorial walk on Sunday in Boulder. (Ella Cobb / Staff Writer)

Barb Cardell of Boulder has been living with HIV since 1991, and has been a client of BCAP since 1993.

“A lot of those names that were listed tonight were friends of mine,” Cardell said.

“But we still have so many wonderful people with us who are living with HIV,” she added. “Oftentimes it’s easy to forget that HIV is still here. It still impacts people’s lives.”

The memorial ceremony included a silent memorial walk down Pearl Street, reflections by Rev. Gail McDougle and Rev. Randy Spaulding, as well as music local singer-guitarist Laurie Dameron and harpist Susan Conceicao.

“We are gathered here today to say that this huge, deadly pandemic has not fallen out of our memories. We are here to say the names, and to remember the gifts and goodness of their lives,” McDougle said of those who died.

The Boulder County AIDS Project and the Interfaith Aids Coalition have been hosting the memorial candlelight vigil together since 1992.

In 2020, the memorial was canceled for the first time in nearly two decades due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the group hosted the the memorial virtually.

Beth Hodges Vowell, BCAP board member, said that after two years, having the in-person memorial return is exciting.

“To be in person again is so impactful and meaningful for a lot of people,” Hodges Vowell said. “It’s important to reflect and remember those people living with HIV who have died, and to spread awareness, so we can end the stigma.”

For Sarah Annecone, development director for BCAP, the candlelight memorial is more than just a way to remember her brother, Matthew, who died of AIDS-related illness in 1990.

“For me, this is also about raising awareness,” Annecone said.

The Boulder County AIDS Project provides vital care and support to around 250 people across Boulder, Broomfield, Gilpin, and Clear Creek counties who are living with HIV.

The nonprofit, which was founded in 1985, offers services such as medical and bilingual case management, insurance assistance, financial support, legal aid, and nutritional support to those diagnosed with the illness. It also serves as an outreach and education center to prevent the further transmission of HIV.

“As the years have gone by, the focus for a lot of people has shifted. That’s why our work is so important — to keep it in the limelight and never forget the folks that came before us,” Hodges Vowell said.

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Ella Cobb
2022-05-16 03:51:45
Boulder Daily Camera

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