Dawn's Gift - AIDS Education

Dawn's Gift

What's on the DVD

This DVD contains 3 separate programs:


AIDS Awareness: Dawn describes the HIV/AIDS basics - definition, progression, transmission, prevention.  Professionally taped by Boeing (to educate their management), and already in use by business, outreach and classrooms across America.  Updated by Judith Billings, past Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and a woman living with AIDS herself.  18 minutes.


Dawn's Gift: Dawn tells the personal side - what it was like for her find out she was HIV+, and how it is to live with AIDS.  An engrossing presentation of the day-to-day struggle.  Professionally taped by Boeing.  Includes footage from the Names Project, and an introduction by Kate Schindle, Miss America 1998.  24 minutes.


Crushing the Flower: A powerful, fast-paced tribute to Dawn, and five other inspirational, open and positive young women.  They are Camie Loveridge, Sheri Kaplan, Lisa Tiger, Rosalind Tymony, and Jennifer Jako.  Produced by Dawn's father.  18 minutes.

Part one, "AIDS Awareness," is a fairly complete but ordinary AIDS 101.  Part two, “Dawn’s Gift,” is the main event, and is as the video cover says, “totally engrossing”.  It should have an intellectual and emotional impact.  “Crushing the Flower” has some excellent content, but is probably too obscure for most people.  The easy fix is to read the following short story from Larry (Dawn's Dad) before viewing:

Dawn had insisted on cremation with dispersal. She went so far as to join the Cremation Club. Pay some down now, and when your time comes you get a deal. As I pulled into the parking space to pick up what was left of my baby girl, the car radio began playing “Butterfly Kisses”. I left with 6 pounds of ash and bone in a plastic bag.

Dawn’s ex-husband, stepfather and I spent a memorable evening dividing her evenly into 50 envelopes. They would be made available at her Memorial Service. She had a lot of flight attendant friends who could take her to exotic places. I needed to find a fitting place for my share.

My last three years had been spent constructing our new home. Nestled into the base of Squak Mountain, it features an outstanding view of Tiger Mountain across the Issaquah Creek Valley. High on Tiger is a parasailer’s launch site, and the view from there is awesome. A nice poetic touch would be to be up there at “dawn”.

With sunrise at 5:35, I needed to leave a bit after 4:00. As I drove below the launch site a magnificent falling star streaked across the star-filled sky, leading the way. There’s a road that goes up to the launch site, but it has a locked gate. Knowing a short cut, I parked the car in a residential cul-de-sac and made a short run up the paved street to a wooded trail that connects with the launch site access road. The road crosses the low point of the run at the bridge over Fifteen Mile Creek. From there it’s nearly a thousand vertical feet up to the launch site. My mind was filled with thoughts of Dawn and her friend Camie Loveridge.

Racing the sun, I ran hard, and made it to the launch site with time to spare. It was breathtaking that early morning, alone with my thoughts and all that remained of my daughter. I remarked aloud what a great view I had found for her. With two minutes till sunrise I ran over the ridge and off to the side where a small patch of wildflowers bloomed. There, where she would look down upon her father, and her father could always look up to her, I released Dawn’s remains.

I attempted to recreate this in “Crushing the Flower”. The road traveled is nearly the same. The night sky is a recreation of the same star patterns that I saw the meteorite streak through that early morning; same woods, same bridge. Now my thoughts on the run would include other young women that I have come to know who are struggling with HIV as I am struggling up Tiger Mountain: afraid of running out of time.

But it may be that something wonderful can follow Dawn’s passing. The images that she leaves behind will warn others that they are at risk from HIV, and perhaps convince them to take care of themselves. Dawn was such a marvelous role model. How many people will hear her story, see their problems in a new light, decide to make the best of them, or to be happy in spite of them?

What a fitting symbol of the precious and fragile gift that is life: the parasailers that launch themselves into the heavens, over the wild flowers nourished by Dawn’s ashes.

Until there’s a cure:  Just say "know".