Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi received the Inaugural Pelosi Leadership Award in recognition of her 25 years of fighting HIV/AIDS in the Congress at the 19th annual Metro TeenAIDS Auction. Below are the Leader's remarks:
“Thank you Adam Tenner for your kind remarks, your generous presentation, and this beautiful crystal gavel - that means you really don't use it more than once if you're going to bang it hard. What a wonderful, wonderful reminder, as if I need one, of the remarkable work that you do with Metro TeenAIDS. Let me first thank the Italian Embassy and the Italian Ambassador, Claudio Bisogniero, who was with us earlier. The Deputy Chief of Mission, Luca Franchetti Pardo, for your beautiful hospitality. Luca said to me as I was coming up here: ‘oh, this is so lovely, for you to open the Embassy,' he said: ‘we hope we will bring good luck.' Thank you Luca, so beautiful. I know you heard from Rich Virgin earlier, President of the Board of Directors. Thank you to Rich and the Board of Directors for what you do for Metro TeenAIDS. Adam Tenner, I congratulate you on your wonderful work.
“For the 25 years that I have been in Congress, and the time before, a special focus [I] have always had - heartbreak for us - on the AIDS issue and those who were afflicted by it, especially our young teens, many of them who were homeless and [in] communications that we have had with them over the years, tells me that it takes a very special kind of person, a person like Adam Tenner, for eleven years to not only minister to the needs for prevention and testing and the rest, but to listen and accommodate the thinking and the priorities of these young people. I know they are possessed with great wisdom now aren't they Adam? And they are teenagers. They are teenagers and it's really a big, wonderful opportunity to save lives, to improve the quality of life, to stop the progress of HIV and AIDS in young people and if you're young, and you're on the street, and you have HIV and you're broke, it's really a challenge.
“So, if you take away any one of those things it's a challenge. Take two away and it's a challenge. You know, it's a challenge all around and it's a challenge for Metro TeenAIDS to accommodate the thinking of young people. What I love about Metro TeenAIDS, and I said this how many years ago? When we, it's been ten years, ten years ago my daughter and I, she's a filmmaker, Alexandra, she made a film and we did a showing for Metro TeenAIDS at that time, and I said then: ‘the beauty of Metro TeenAIDS is that you are community based. Not only that you meet the needs of the community but that you listen to the community for solutions to get the results that really mean something in people's lives, that understands the challenges that might be unique to such a young population with such a deadly, deadly challenge.' That was then and now we have done better.
“But what I said in the paper this morning was, they said: ‘were there any surprises for you over the 25 years,' and I'm not usually surprised, I can always figure what's going to happen but the one surprise that I said was that I would have never, and some of you who, you're all so young, some of you may have been around 25-years-ago - probably share this surprise. I would never have believed 25-years-ago, projecting out that number of years, that we still would not have a cure for AIDS, or a vaccine to fight against this disease. And so that makes prevention, testing, all of that so much more important. Certainly, we have halted its progress in people. We have improved the quality of life. We're here and ready for an intervention that may come along and we're relentless in our pursuit of what that intervention, that cure, or that vaccine, can be.
“But nonetheless it has been persistent. And because it is not like 25-years-ago when we were going to two funerals a day, sometimes young people don't realize how challenging this can be to them and that's why it's becoming even sometimes harder to engage in the appropriate prevention. And I say appropriate. You can't even imagine the conversations we've had over time as to what is appropriate prevention and how we can vividly and graphically demonstrate what that might be. Some of you are shaking your heads that you know what I mean but it any case it is really a joy to see how successful Metro TeenAIDS has been. How dynamic Adam Tenner is. I mean, really, this organization really was waiting for him to come along to lift it back up, to do this very, very important work which was to save the lives of our young people. Some of them, as I say, away from home, some of them not even telling their parents what they might be engaged in that might lead them to a diagnosis, some of them breaking all kinds of news to their families at once. I'm particularly honored to be receiving an award tonight with community advocates Wallace Babington and Mikko Koonen, Excellence in Service. Congratulations to all of you for the recognition that you are receiving this evening as well. It's an honor for me to share this podium, these honors with you.
“And I would just say, Adam mentioned that my granddaughter was with me, she's 13, she lives in Arizona, I wanted to bring her here tonight because I want her to see all of you. I want her to see what this issue was about, about young people, about community-based solutions to it, about generosity of many people, about knowledge, about science, about compassion, about understanding, about what this challenge is, and that what it is a part of, what it is a part of. And what it is a part of that is different than 25-years-ago, was 25 years ago in San Francisco, we welcomed the international conference on AIDS. The one that will be held in Washington at the end of the month is a completely different story but all of it is part of what the HIV-AIDS challenge has been to our country. So, I have accepted this honor on behalf of all of my colleagues who worked so hard on this, for all of my constituents and friends who lost their lives early on, and all who courageously battle HIV-AIDS. But what is important to me, in addition to that, is that other people will receive an award, in future years that will have my name, that is very humbling to me. I am very grateful to you for that award. So, I thank all of you who are gathered here tonight to support Metro TeenAIDS. I thank you Adam, for all that you do.'