IRON MOUNTAIN - Members of the public, along with area college students, have the opportunity to view the AIDS Memorial Quilt at Bay College today and Saturday.
There are 112 panels with the names of those who died from AIDS, including individuals from Michigan and Wisconsin on display in Fornetti Hall at Bay College in Iron Mountain through 2 p.m. Saturday.
Philip Gardiepy-Hefner, HIV/AIDS Service Coordinator in Iron Mountain, said a lot of people came to view the panels on Thursday.
Kelsy Thom, left, and Autumn Gardiner, volunteers for Florence High School, showcase a panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on display at Bay College in Iron Mountain. One hundred twelve panels of the quilt with names of those who died from AIDS from Michigan or Wisconsin are on display through Saturday.
An opening ceremony was held at Bay College Thursday night. This is when local panels were folded into a Lotus flower.
Gardiepy-Hefner said the memorial quilt is a "great awareness piece."
He said there will be 50,000 new infections in America this year.
Each panel is 3-foot by 6-foot to represent the size of a human grave.
Eight panels make up one block, which is a 12-foot by 12-foot section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
Gardiepy-Hefner said some panels have more than one person represented.
Names on the quilts currently on display in Iron Mountain include Arthur Ashe, tennis player; Michael Bennett, director/choreographer; Michael Callen, singer; Tina chow, clothing designer; Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen; Rudolf Nureyev, ballot dancer; Tim Richmond, NASCAR Winston Cup driver; Sylvester, singer; Dr. Tom Waddell, Olympic athlete; Ricky Wilson, B-52's guitarist; AIDS activists and many more.
Some of the panels do not list the name of the deceased individual, and panels include loved ones from Iron Mountain, Marquette, Negaunee, Baraga, and Bay City.
Gardiepy-Hefner said materials used on the panels include Barbie dolls, buttons, car keys, condoms, credit cards, metal, dresses, feather boas, jeans, wedding rings, ashes, dresses, and hair.
In addition to the panels, quilt archives include nearly 500,000 objects that have been sent in with the panels including handwritten notes, letters, cards, CD's, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, books.
The last time the quilt was in Iron Mountain was in 2000.
The quilt still receives an average of a new panel every day of the year.
Established in 1987, the NAMES Project Foundation, the international caretaker of the Quilt, works to preserve, care for and use the AIDS Memorial Quilt to foster healing, advance social justice and inspire action.
The Quilt began in San Francisco almost 25 years ago with a single 3-by-6-foot panel.
Today, this epic tapestry of hope and love includes more than 47,000 panels. These panels have come from every state in the nation and have been created by friends, lovers and family members in an attempt to transform loss and heartbreak into hope and healing.
In a war against a disease that has no cure, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has evolved as a potent tool in the effort to educate against the lethal threat of AIDS.
By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, the Quilt helps teach compassion, triumphs over taboo, stigma and phobia; and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well being and that of their family, friends and community.
For more information on the NAMES Project and the AIDS Memorial Quilt, visit aidsquilt.org or call the national headquarters at (404) 688-5500.
A closing ceremony for the quilt will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bay College in Iron Mountain.
To donate to the Alan Esselman Memorial Fund, which assists people in the area with medical needs and rent, contact Gardiepy-Hefner at 774-1570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.