Students efforts help fight AIDS in Africa

Photo by Emily DeLoach
Flagler College sophomores Laura Galioto and Mary Budd attended the first Keep a Child Alive College meeting which was held in New York City.

The Keep a Child Alive College division brings awareness to Flagler

By Emily DeLoach |

Flagler College sophomores Laura Galioto and Mary Budd have a passion for compassion, and it has led them to get involved in Keep a Child Alive College, which is fighting AIDS in Africa.

Galioto says that she came upon KCA when she saw a television special on AIDS in Africa. She went online to see what she could do to help and found KCA.

“I was feeling like my life is so hard, and I didn’t want to deal with the everyday stuff,” Galioto said. “I saw the KCA Web site and it opened my eyes to how hard other people’s lives are.”

KCA College was founded this past year as a way to network college students who support their mission.
Leigh Blake founded KCA in 2002. The organization works to raise awareness and gain support for the treatment and prevention of AIDS in Africa.

Galioto contacted Kate Otto, the head of KCA College, to find out how she could get involved.

Otto informed Galioto of the First Annual KCA College Convention being held in New York, and Galioto and her best friend, Budd, decided to fly up to be a part of it this past summer.

The night before the KCA College convention, Galioto and Budd attended the Black Ball, held by KCA and their ambassador Alicia Keys.

The Ball raised $2.1 million for KCA.

“At the convention, we met 15 children whose families had died from AIDS,” Galioto said. “There were also two doctors from Africa who have dedicated their lives to helping AIDS victims.”

Seeing the orphaned children inspired the two students to spread the work of KCA to other students.
Galioto and Budd met KCA founder Blake at the Black Ball and were inspired by her work.

Currently, the two are trying to raise awareness on campus and are working on forming a KCA group at Flagler.

Galioto started a Flagler College chapter on KCA College’s Web site.

The Web site lists colleges who are involved and the work they are doing on their campuses. University of Florida, Florida State University and Miami University are among some of the colleges listed on the site.

“KCA College is an easy way to get college students involved in a major cause,” Budd said. “There will be a convention every year for college students around the country to meet and talk about work on their campuses.”

Galioto says that supporting KCA is good because the organization has been successful already.
KCA provides treatment for AIDS victims but also provides education for people to protect themselves from contracting HIV.

“What is startling is that people don’t realize that around 70 percent of the world’s AIDS population is in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Galioto said. “One dollar from every person on campus would buy the anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment needed to save thousands.”

“People in college might be frustrated with their own lives and this makes you realize the reality of serious problems going on in the world,” Budd said.

Forming a group at Flagler is not easy and these students know that they have their work cut out for them.

Galioto said, “Anytime you can bring about awareness and selflessness in people is a good thing,” in reference to forming a group on campus.

Emily Upchurch, director of student activities, says that forming a group with such a narrow focus may be hard to sustain over time.

Galioto and Budd will need at least 20 students to join their group, a statement of purpose, a list of activities, a proposed budget and a faculty sponsor, just to get their group ready to present before SGA.

Overall, there are many obstacles in the way for Galioto and Budd, but these students are determined to find a way to make a difference.

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