HIV positive employee receives award

GW Hospital employee Wallace Corbett said volunteering has been a large part of his life since his mother told him at a young age that “everyone has something to offer.” Corbett, recipient of this year’s AIDS Walk Courage Award, received his honor at the annual AIDS Walk this weekend.

Corbett, HIV positive since 1999, is a referral specialist in medical imaging in the hospital’s radiology department. He has worked with a variety of national and D.C.-based charities and foundations for AIDS since 1989.

“Volunteering is something you do without ever asking for anything back,” Corbett said.

The Whitman-Walker Clinic, the AIDS Walk’s sole sponsor, gives out the award annually to a person living with HIV or AIDS.

Chip Lewis, spokesperson for the clinic, said the award is given to someone who has “shown remarkable courage and leadership in their fight against the disease.”

This year, 150 GW students marched in the AIDS Walk, bringing in 3,000 of the more than $650,000 that participants raised for the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

Corbett’s volunteerism and leadership in AIDS charities and his effort to raise HIV and AIDS awareness in D.C., especially within the black community, made him a likely candidate for the award, Lewis said.

Over the past 14 years, Corbett has served as a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Max Robinson Center, an HIV and AIDS clinic, recruited participants for the AIDS Walk and served on the board of the National Association of People with AIDS.

Corbett helped found and is now president of Brother-to-Brother, Sister-to-Sister United, a local group promoting volunteerism and HIV and AIDS awareness by encouraging black bicycle riders to participate in various charitable bike race.

“BBSSU is a group of people who want to make a difference,” Corbett said. “HIV/AIDS is a very ugly situation in the D.C. community, which means something must not be getting out there. Our group hopes to change this.”

Corbett said BBSSU has more than 500 members and currently planning for the first AIDS ride from Washington to Baltimore in 2004.

At the Walk on Saturday, 20 of Corbett’s fellow BBSSU riders and colleagues from the GW Hospital joined him to celebrate his award.

“We are very pleased and honored to present the Courage Award to Wallace,” said A. Cornelius Baker, executive director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic. “Over the years, he has lived his life free of fear and demonstrated his devotion to reaching people with the message that they can and must do something about the HIV/AIDS crisis.”

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