amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Climbing Mountains for Magnolia

15-year-old Raises $5,000 for amfAR with 100-Mile Hike Through Alps

Fifteen-year-old Will always wanted to hike across the Alps. And with a 3-year-old sister born with HIV, he wanted to raise awareness of the virus too. Will combined his desires over the summer, when he trekked 100 miles over eight days from Oberstdorf, Germany, to Merano, Italy. The hike raised $5,000 for amfAR's life-saving research programs.

Will and Maggie

“My family has done a lot of research on HIV/AIDS since Magnolia was diagnosed,” said Will, who lives in Washington, DC. “We were particularly interested in amfAR because of the launch of the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research and the unprecedented investments in HIV research in an effort to find a cure.” 

Will's sister, Magnolia, or Maggie as she is affectionately known, was adopted at birth. She was diagnosed with HIV when she was four months old after coming down with a rare form of pneumonia. Her birth mother had contracted the virus late in pregnancy. Since her diagnosis, Magnolia has been on antiretroviral therapy.

Will and his dad 
Will and his dad in the Alps  

“One of the challenges for our family is having to give her the oral meds twice a day, but so far she is quite accepting of them,” said Maggie’s mother, Kelly. “She goes to the HIV clinic once a quarter for an exam and blood work. The hardest part is the blood draw, which Maggie hates. She is very afraid. It is difficult on all of us to see her so confused and upset.”

Maggie is in preschool, is strong and healthy and has an undetectable viral load. Will and his mother describe her as beautiful, happy, and courageous.

“Modern medicine literally saved Maggie's life,” Will said. “And although we are grateful for modern day treatments, our ultimate goal is to find a cure.”