Long-term HIV AIDS survivor Bob Bowers

I'm so proud and impressed with the work you do Bob. I'm so happy knowing there's people like you out there fighting for the people against the horrible machine. I love you and all you do (including the SHOCKER).
 

Love- Scott Hart

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Dear Mr. Bowers,
 

I do not know how to thank you enough. It is hard enough for me to even think about getting AIDS, but to have the integrity to openly discuss it with hundreds of kids is truly incredible. You are an amazing person and I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet you. Thank you so much for showing me the value of life and I wish you the best.
 

~Joseph L.

When I think life is giving me a bad deal man, a voice speaks somewhere in the back of my mind and says "never surrender". That voice was never there until a few months ago. I've been blessed no doubt, but its souls like you that drive me. I will never fucking surrender. You got "it". Hard to explain "it". You have "it", lucky, worked for it, God gave "it", thanks for inspiring so many brother. A wise person once told me, " A TRUE FRIEND IS SOMEONE WHO REACHES FOR YOUR HAND BUT TOUCHES YOUR HEART."

Never surrender,
~ B

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COMMITMENT

WISCONSIN DIVISION OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Dear Bob:


On behalf of the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, AIDS/HIV Program thank you for participating as a panelist for the Telling Their Stories breakout session at the, Caring for Ourselves conference. We received many positive comments about the conference. Your participation and contributions as speaker and planning committee member was instrumental in making the program a success. Thank you for your willingness to share, to encourage and to help build hope for your peers. Sharing your personal story and experiences helps to encourage and demonstrates an example of human persistence that exemplifies the conference namesake of Caring for Ourselves. Participants expressed they have learned so much, from your story, advocacy and leadership example. Again thank you so much for your commitment to the HIV community.

Sincerely,
Gail M. Nahwahquaw
Life Care Services Coordinator
WI AIDS/HIV Program

COURAGE


Bob Bowers' story was very inspiring to me. Listening to him made me think more about taking life day by day and to not take things for granted. It was really great of him to come in and talk to us about his situation. I admire him tons for his courage and strength. His story inspired me to think differently about many things like racism, love, acceptance and life itself. Not only was Mr. Bowers' presentation inspiring, it was also extremely informative. All the information I learned really made me think about what I personally can do to help the spread and affects of HIV, as well as other STIs.

 

~ Frances S.

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HOPE


Mr. Bowers,


I am writing to express how deeply you touched me during your presentation. You speech was the most passionate, interesting and encouraging I have ever heard. You taught us the importance of hope when you are diagnosed with a deadly virus like HIV. I can't tell you how much I respect and admire what you do to educate teens and adults about HIV and how it can ruin your life forever if you let it. Above all else, I respect what you go through each day to survive with HIV and AIDS. Thanks again for your passion about what you do and for your caring about my generation. I will keep you, Michael, Richard, Eddie and Hilary in my prayers.

Sincerely,
Jim S.

INSPIRE

Bob Bowers was a very interesting and informative speaker that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to. Bob has a very inspirational story and I thought is was particularly courageous of him to get up in front of so many people and explain that he is an AIDS survivor. Bob did a very good job of mixing facts with real-life experience, another aspect of his presentation that I thought was very well-done. He provided enough technical information, such as how HIV is transmitted, yet he also touched on the emotional side of the disease, explaining the way he felt when he found out he was HIV positive. In addition, I liked the way Bob asked for audience participation, but did not make it awkward or make us feel like we had to participate. Overall, I thought that Bob had a very inspirational life story and thoroughly enjoyed listening to his presentation. 

~ Elizabeth P.

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LEARN, LAUGH, LOVE, LIVE.

CONGRATS ON TRULY LIVING YOUR LIFE. MOST HUMANS WITH OUT A DISEASE ARE NOT IN THE MOMENT! YOU ON THE OTHER HAND ARE DOING WHAT WE WERE MADE TO DO....SIMPLY GO WITH THE FLOW OF OUR LIFE! NO MATER WHAT HAPPENS OR HOW WE FEEL, ALL WE CAN DO IS TRY. THAT is IT. YOU KNOW IM A FIGHTER; WE SPONSOR MANY UFC FIGHTERS WHO I KNOW VERY WELL. YOUR TOUGHER THAN ALL OF THEM PUT TOGETHER! STRAIGHT UP! KEEP GOING. JUST KEEP GOING. IF THERE EVER COMES A TIME WHEN YOU FEEL SCARED, RELAX; ALWAYS REMEMBER NONE OF US EVER ASKED TO BE BORN. NOT I OR YOU OR ANYONE. WE WERE ALL CHOSEN. THAT MEANS WHAT EVER HAPPENS IN OUR LIFE IS ALWAYS APART OF WHAT'S BEEN CHOSEN EVEN IF WE ARE THE SUM OF OUR CHOICES. THE FACT THAT WE HAVE BEEN CHOSEN MEANS ALL OF OUR CHOICES ARE FOR THE LIFE THAT LIVES INCLUDING OUR OWN. THE ONLY THING WE LEAVE BEHIND IS OUR INFLUENCES, OUR CHARACTER, OUR ACTIONS THAT AFFECTED THOSE LIVES AROUND US. AT THE END OF THE DAY WHAT ELSE MATTERS? I CAN ONLY HOPE TO TOUCH, HELP AND EDUCATE AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU HAVE MY FRIEND. EVERYONE HAS A LIFE TIME THAT IS TICKING, EVERYONE. THE BEST WAY THAT WE CAN SHOW OUR APPRECIATION FOR OUR LIFE IS BY THE WAY WE TREAT EACH OTHER. IN MY OPINION YOU ARE DOING WHAT MOST HUMANS IN THE WORLD ARE NOT. I RESPECT YOU MORE THAN YOU REALLY KNOW MAN. TAKE CARE BROTHER AND KEEP CHECKIN IN WITH ME AS I WILL DO THE SAME.


BEST WISHES,
STEVE SCORDEL

INSPIRING

Dear Bob,


I was profoundly impacted by your talk at West. It was completely different to hear about HIV from you than from a teacher or a classroom. Your talk changed my views about the virus, especially since it came straight from your heart. I now know that spreading knowledge about HIV is one of the most effective ways to stop people getting infected.  Thanks for the energy and empowering words. I feel more informed and in control of my knowledge. Keep on keeping on, and good luck with the rest of your talks. You are truly one of the most inspiring people I have met.

Jessie-West High School-Madison, Wisconsin

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NEVER EVER SURRENDER!

Dear Bob,

Over the years in the social groups I attend to, I can say I met many a person. But not a single one of them has made me take the few moments I did out of my day and revel in your awesomeness. And I've known some people that have had their fair share of shit happen to them. But I spent some time on your site links, and you made me not only commend you for the courage you have, but actually realize what little things I take for granted every day just by being alive. I hope this message reaches you in the BEST of health, and I hope your time on this planet is longer and more prosperous than you ever dreamed it could be. Again, I feel compelled to wish you congratulations on not giving up, and good luck in helping others. I would say don't quit fighting, and don't give up,  but I think you already have plenty of motivation and faith of your own. I just hope my few little words fan what blazing flames drive you. Thank you for being such a beautiful human being.

With the utmost respect and high regards,
E. Bojan

A LION AMONG MEN

Your courage in the face of this adversity is truly inspirational, and bleeds out far beyond the boundaries of the burden that you bear. When we, the people, stand united, with God on our side, there is no darkness we cannot ignite, and no demon we can't slay. Here's to you my friend...a Lion among men!

~Roberto

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INSPIRATION

Hi!

I just wanted to say what an inspiration you are. I haven't even seen your documentary yet, but just from what I've read on your page makes me want to come up there and give you a big hug! You show us what can be accomplished if you put your mind to it and don't give up. I remember what it was like in my 20's losing many friends and feeling so helpless against AIDS. Knowing you went through the same since those days and still came out on top gives me great hope for the future. Beating it long term can be done! So thank you for all you do!! Hope this birthday is an excellent one and that you know how much you are loved!

~ Cody

PS: Great tats btw!

FRIENDS FOR LIFE

Hey Bob,
 
You look so wonderful and sound like you have done so many good and positive things with your life.  I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished and the plans you have to make HIV/AIDS so much more understandable to others and provide answers and options.
 
Your email box must be full, but please include me from now on so I know what you are doing and how you are. I am proud to say you were my trainer and still are and always be my special friend.
 
Love to you,

Judi 

David writes:


Just a quick note to Bob ... Thanks for speaking to my classes at New Roads the other day. I have been working with kids for twenty+ years.  Hands down you were the single most effective outside voice I have ever witnessed. Clearly that is because you were able to touch the hearts of everyone in the room (me included) in a clear and powerful way

Thanks!
hang in there dude, David

Dearest Bob,


I just wanted to let you know how honored I am to have met you, and am continually inspired, with every moment, by your strength, passion, sincerity, kindness, and positive outlook on all things. For living your truth, with compassion, and a raised fist. You're amazing....

Namaste my dear friend,
~ Vicki

This movie was a real life view into what a person, with HIV, and those closest to them, go through daily. The mental and physical toll in the process of fighting this disease can be difficult in many ways. It is a story which is important because there are so many good people out there struggling to maintain their dignity and quality of life. Some people isolate themselves and feel quite alone. The best thing about this film is that it shows those people they are not alone, and that they can have pride in their fight against this disease.

Bob -
The thanks should really be coming from me to you for your willingness to speak and for the inspirational comments that you provided to the crowd. Your speech by far was the most stirring and memorable for the 4,000 walkers in attendance. We raised just over $500,000 for the AIDS prevention, care and treatment services around Wisconsin. 

 

Mike Gifford
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW)

Dear Bob,


I just wanted to thank you so much for coming in and speaking to our class. You really inspired me to do something with my life. Your stories really touched me and made anything seem possible. The way you keep battling  really made me remember that there really are good people in the world. I would just want you to know that after you came, you became my hero. The way you deal with your life is amazing. I honestly don't' think I could go through my life like you do, I would give up. If everyone had the will power you had, nothing bad would happen in the world. I admire that instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you stand up and teach kids like me what it is like. I would like you to know that right when I got home from school that day, I told my parents all about the greatest man I have ever seen. Now every day before I go to bed, I say a special prayer just for you. So, thank you for inspiring me to live life to the fullest like you do. Thank you again for coming in and talking to our class.

Sincerely,
Danny A.

What a compassionate human being Bob Bowers is. There wasn't one person in that room Saturday night that wasn't moved by what Bob had to say. His presentation wasn't about "my life living with AIDS." It was about his outrage and suffering for others that people are still dying from a PREVENTABLE disease. I was honored to have seen him speak Saturday night.  

 

 ~Linda

Thank you. You have done an amazing job of of turning lemons into lemonade. You have taken your mistakes and misfortune and accepted it and used your experiences to educate our generation to ensure that we are not faced with the same difficulties that you were. So I just wanted to say thank you. You gave an engaging and informational life lesson that I will never forget.

~Emiliano

Dear Bob Bowers,


Thank you for coming to my school. I thought that you were an excellent speaker with a lot to say. Something that surprised me about you was your carefree attitude about life and your philosophy about living life to its fullest! I thought it was great and would appreciate it if you would come back to speak with us.

~ Chris W.

"Those who have lived with HIV for many years are often called long-term survivors (LTS). There are a few definitions describing HIV LTS. One definition of LTS refers to those who have been living with HIV since before the modern era of effective HIV drugs, or "highly active antiretroviral therapy" (HAART)."

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YOU are simply amazing. I so respect what you are doing. I really appreciate you and don't even know you. Just reading your site blew me away. You give hope to people who most of the time have none. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world. That gift is knowledge and educating people as well as the compassion you have for others. I firmly believe you have been given the chance to live this long because of what you are doing with your life. take care and know even complete strangers support what you are doing.
peace and love,
 
TracyLynn

I just want to let you know i think what you're doing is amazing. My father has HIV from the mid 80's but my Uncle (his brother) died in '90. Unfortunately they shared a needle. And my aunt, my uncles wife, is surviving it too. I think you have an amazing attitude and that helps a lot.


..::*~Jess~*::..

Hi Bob,


I wanted you to know that your presentation meant a lot to me. Sometimes a medical student, including myself, loses focus as to why s/he is there at medical school. We're bogged down with so much studying of facts, figures, body parts, and physiology that we forget that we chose this profession because we wanted to help people, our fellow human beings. I, myself, was lost in all of my studying at the UW and forgot the necessary and absolutely essential human face of medicine. And you, Bob, brought me back. You reminded me that I came to medical school to help people such as yourself and to serve as a patient advocate so that everyone has access to medical care and receives the respect and kindness they deserve. So thank you for coming to speak and saying the things you did because your words need to be heard by everyone and used as motivation to act. In a way, you're a soldier of hope, fighting our ignorance, complacency, fear, and doubt and filling us with hope that people can change, our perceptions can change, and that we will succeed in taking care of each other, one person at a time.

Nathaniel Chin
UW-Madison Medical Student

Bob was so inspiring. He really taught me that no matter who you are or what is going on in your life, you always need to be your own person. The way he is able to talk openly about his hardships and not turn away any questions in front of complete strangers that couldn't possibly understand what he is going through, is amazing. Bob Bowers is a true life hero in my eyes. He is so brave to take on this disease and just do what he has to do to get through it. I wish I had that kind of drive and courage in my own life.

~ Erin B

When we were told Bob was coming to speak to us I was expecting the usual talk, dry, boring and with scary pictures, yippee. To my pleasant surprise, I was wrong. Bob was nothing even close to boring; he was one of the best speakers I have ever heard in my entire life. He was such and inspirational person to both my classmates and me. It was truly amazing to hear his story and listen to him talk about his life. Bob wasn't sad or depressed, or at least he didn't show it., he believed that he almost got HIV for a purpose to spread the news to young people like me and help stop HIV/AIDS. For 22 years, Bob has been living with HIV, and if he can do that, I think his message will enable people to make smarter decisions.
 

Cali S.

Dear Bob,


I was profoundly impacted by your talk at West. It was completely different to hear about HIV from you than from a teacher or a classroom. Your talk changed my views about the virus, especially since it came straight from your heart. I now know that spreading knowledge about HIV is one of the most effective ways to stop people getting infected.  Thanks for the energy and empowering words. I feel more informed and in control of my knowledge. Keep on keeping on, and good luck with the rest of your talks. You are truly one of the most inspiring people I have met.

Jessie-West High School-Madison, Wisconsin

I must say your story is so powerful I have never known anyone with HIV... I think you are a blessing to this world... God bless your voice and your image because like I said it is so powerful, I must admit I clicked on your page because I was like wow he is cute
then when I hit your website it really hit home for me because I would never have assumed that you were HIV positive and then I read how you attained the disease and thought what if that was me. It was one of those Wow moments...
Thank you for that moment.

 

~ Megan

Hey There!!

I am in complete awe over you and your story...I took some time and went on your site www.onetoughpirate.com and was completely blown away...the tears are welling up in my eyes as I am sending you this....I am so overcome with emotion from the video I saw I couldn't breathe I had to go outside to get air and compose myself...you have truly changed me regarding this disease that we fight everyday...I am so honored to know you and stand with you in the fight for HIV/AIDS...may God bless you and keep you in perfect peace...I will never be the same...your wife is an inspiration as well...you are very blessed to have such a wonderful person beside you...I am in complete awe...I just cannot help how I feel from your story...it is a great honor to have you as my friend!!!........

Always, Mimi

I appreciate positive role models when it comes to being HIV+. The Pirate is a symbol of strength and rebellion, and these are the character traits necessary to live with HIV. Together, timbers will shiver for certain.
 

~ Douglas P.

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There isn't a 'perfect plan' for people living with HIV/AIDS. Long-term survival requires access to care and treatment. Hope, compassion, support and an immense desire to live are vital! I am indeed blessed to have experienced all of these throughout my 39 years of living with HIV. This is why I advocate so tirelessly for other people who are living with this disease - to help reduce the stigma and hopelessness still too often associated with having the virus.
 

~ Bob Bowers aka One Tough Pirate

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Gritty, raw and very real, The Fire Within is a compelling feature-length documentary chronicling a year in the life of long-term AIDS survivor Bob Bowers.