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People helping people: Fight AIDS in Gwinnett

In the fall of 1990 a small group of concerned individuals rallied together in Lawrenceville, touched by a "new disease" called AIDS. The group included Marty Crossman, mother of Brett Lykins. He tested HIV-positive a few years earlier when he was 7 years old.

On Aug. 1, Brett died in his mother's Duluth home. He was surrounded by those who loved him. Brett had spent his entire life trying to educate others about HIV infection. No family should have to lose a son to this awful epidemic.

Infection rates are on the rise throughout our area. The following is a letter from Brett's mother encouraging all of us to come together and take action against the spread of HIV/AIDS in our community:

Dear Friends:

Every October for the past 16 years my son, Brett Lykins, and I have attended AIDS Walk Atlanta. This year we intend to walk again, only Brett will be there in memory as he unfortunately lost his 27-year battle with HIV on Aug. 1.

Brett was the youth spokesperson of the walk for many years. As a young person infected with HIV, he never turned down an opportunity to educate and advocate for prevention of HIV by publicly speaking about his battle.

This year's AIDS Walk Atlanta will be dedicated in his honor for all of his years of giving back to organizations like AIDGwinnett who cared for him.

My family and I invite you to register today with AIDGwinnett - Team 1002. Mark your calendar and walk with us on Oct. 21 at Piedmont Park. If you are unable to walk, please offer your support by sending your tax-deductible donation to AIDGwinnett. Together, we can win this battle.

You can register online at www.aidgwinnett.org or by calling 678-990-6445.

- Marty Crossman

Co-Founder of AIDGwinnett

"People Helping People" is a weekly column written by the executive directors of nonprofit organizations in Gwinnett County. Today's article was written by Larry M. Lehman of AIDGwinnett.