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After homework, a young fundraiser fights for her communities

September 15, 2017

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By Ashley Brown 

Lillian Weir

Lillian Weir is a natural activist, whose strong beliefs and voice rise up to fight for what is right. For years she has marched in the Chicago Pride Parade, right in the thick of the crowd, waiving a flag and dancing in support of the rights of marginalized communities nationwide. She’s also loaned her innate activism to the Chicago Teacher’s Union, the Women’s March in Chicago, marriage equality and for acceptance of all gender identities and sexualities. And she’s accomplished all of this by the young age of 13.  

So, when an opportunity to fundraise for AIDS Run & Walk Chicago presented itself, Lillian jumped at the chance. Lillian and her mother Cynthia both walk and fundraise for the Season of Concern team, a Chicago-based non-profit that provides care and support for those in the entertainment industry experiencing health-related emergencies and medical issues, including HIV and AIDS. 

For Lillian’s first walk in 2016, even the rain couldn’t dampen her enthusiasm. Both Lillian and her mother were impressed by the energy, excitement and camaraderie of the teams and the sense of unity and acceptance that permeated the air. Lillian was particularly impacted by the diversity of identities represented. 

“I believe people should be represented, so that was a really good experience for me,” she recalls. 

In particular, Cynthia remembers her daughter’s infectious enthusiasm.  

“She didn’t walk the 5k walk, she ran it,” recounts Cynthia with a laugh. “She would run ahead and we wouldn’t see her and then she’d run all the way back because she was so excited and having such a great time. Lillian jumped up at the end of the event and said ‘Let’s do this again every year; this is our tradition!’” 

Lillian agrees, and particularly remembers the excitement of creating a tangible impact for those living with and vulnerable to HIV to allow them to live with dignity and purpose. 

“The general experience of being there was enlightening,” Lillian remembers. “I thought it was incredible to be a part of that.” 

Lillian is excited to continue her involvement into 2017 and beyond, and hopes to continue to raise more funds and get more people involved in the fight to end new HIV infections and health inequity. While Cynthia helps her run her fundraising page, Lillian sets the goals and creates unique incentives to get people excited to give, including a home-cooked meal for people who give more than $100, as well as an original artwork by Lillian for the top contributor. She also spreads the word to family and friends and excitedly monitors her fundraising progress before the big day. To date, Lillian has already surpassed her fundraising goal.

But despite her passion and dedication, Lillian is modest about her involvement and believes that everyone should stand up for what they believe in, regardless of age. 

“I don’t think age matters,” she says. “If you believe in something, you should protect it and defend it. Stand up for what you believe in.” 

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