Charlotte native will bike to fight HIV/AIDS
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Saturday, Feb. 01, 2014

Charlotte native will bike to fight HIV/AIDS

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    - CONGRESS OF FUTURE MEDICAL LEADERS
    Maelee Williamson of Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw has been nominated to attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders.
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    Brandon M. Baxter
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    - COURTESY OF OTIS MORGAN
    Otis Morgan will ride in the AIDS/LifeCycle event in June.

Charlotte native and resident Otis Morgan will take to the road on two wheels in a fight for a cause he holds dear.

Morgan will ride in the AIDS/LifeCycle event, a fundraiser in California where thousands of people ride bicycles 545 miles, from San Francisco to Los Angeles, during the first week of June to raise money for the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“It’s a loving week where everyone is in it for one cause,” Morgan said. “It’s the happiest week of my life.”

The event supports the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the HIV/AIDS-related services of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, according to a news release from AIDS/LifeCycle.

Participants can be HIV-positive or HIV-negative.

This is Morgan’s fourth time in the ride, which he heard about when he lived in California for 10 years. Morgan said the ride has personal meaning for him as a gay man.

Growing up, Morgan said, he often was confronted by the stereotypes about HIV/AIDS. He said he has many friends who are HIV-positive; he is HIV-negative.

“One reason I ride is for them,” he said. “Anyone can get HIV/AIDS, I’m just lucky I’m negative.”

While the ride is based in California, the support of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center reaches nationwide, Morgan said.

The AIDS/LifeCycle event works to increase federal funding for universal access to life-saving medications, which can cost nearly $20,000 a year, with the help of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, according to the AIDS/LifeCycle website.

AIDS/LifeCycle will take place June 1-7. Last year, Morgan raised more than $9,000 and hopes to raise $15,000 this year. “We can’t do it without sponsors,” he said.

To thank supporters, Morgan devotes two months to handmaking more than 300 Valentine’s Day cards for sponsors, family and friends.

“I’m a hopeless romantic,” he said. “Valentine’s Day is my holiday and people love it. It brings a smile to their face and makes the holiday more enjoyable.”

To sponsor Morgan, visit http://bit.ly/1e4R85u. For more information about registering and donating, visit www.aidslifecycle.org.

Future medical leaders

Maelee Williamson, a sophomore at Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw, has been nominated to attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Washington, D.C., Feb. 14-16.

The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields, according to a National Academy of Future Physicians news release.

Williamson will have a chance to network with medical professionals and meet other students interested in a career in a medical field.

“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be a doctor. This is a great opportunity to see what I’ll be doing in the future.”

Dr. Connie Mariano, the Medical Director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists nominated Williamson to represent Marvin Ridge based on her leadership potential, academic achievement and determination to help others in the field of medicine, according to the news release.

During the three-day Congress, Williamson will join students from across the country to hear from Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners.

She also will learn what to expect in medical school from Ivy League and top medical school deans.

Williamson said she gets her love for the medical field from her mother, who is a nurse. “She taught me about medicine,” Williamson said.

She hopes to study sports medicine and works with the athletic trainer at Marvin Ridge. She hopes to one day work for a football team.

Military news

• Charlotte native Army Pvt. Tyre R. Lanier has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood in Waynesville, Mo.

During the nine weeks of training, he received instruction in drill and ceremony, weapons, rifle marksmanship qualification, bayonet combat, chemical warfare, field training and tactical exercises, marches, military courtesy, military justice, physical fitness, first aid, and Army history, traditions and core values.

Lanier is the son of Thomas and Yunell Lanier of Charlotte and a 2012 graduate of Olympic High School in Charlotte.

• Mint Hill native Air Force Airman 1st Class Dakota E. Griffin graduated as an honor graduate from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio.

He completed an intensive eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness and basic warfare principles and skills.

By completing the training, Griffin earned four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Griffin is the son of Theodore Griffin of Mint Hill and is a 2013 graduate of Independence High School.

• Charlotte native Air Force Airman Brandon M. Baxter has graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio.

He completed an intensive eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness and basic warfare principles and skills.

Baxter earned four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Baxter is a 2012 graduate of Olympic High School. Baxter is the son of Ericka Baxter-Moore of Charlotte. He also is the son of Michael and Sharrika Burnett, also of Charlotte.

• Charlotte native Army National Guard Pvt. Robert G. Wright has graduated from basic combat training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C.

During the nine weeks of training, he studied the Army mission, history, tradition and core values, physical fitness, and received instruction and practice in basic combat skills, military weapons, chemical warfare and bayonet training, drill and ceremony, marching, rifle marksmanship, armed and unarmed combat, map reading, field tactics, military courtesy, military justice system, basic first aid, foot marches and field training exercises.

Wright is the son of Peggy and Glenn Wright of Charlotte. He is a 2013 graduate of Charlotte Catholic School.

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