Back before Ryan Lewis was half of the Grammy-winning, fur-coat-wearing, world-famous Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, he was just a kid growing up on the South Hill in Spokane. And his tight-knit, middle-class Christian family had a struggle that set them apart from other South Hill families: His mother, Julie Lewis, was HIV-positive. The cause was a blood transfusion in 1984, a time when the stigma of HIV and AIDS made it something the family didn't share for years after the diagnosis.
"I think it really just opened up the door, as a kid, to life experiences that most of my friends didn't know anything about," Lewis told the Inlander in 2013. "I didn't get it, my sisters didn't get it, my dad didn't get it. It could've been a totally different thing. I could not be here. And she could not be here. But she is."
Inspired by his mother — a 30-year survivor — and improvements in treatment for those who are HIV-positive, Lewis launched the nonprofit 30/30 Project with his family earlier this year to build health care centers around the world. He called on fans to help with the initial funding goal of $100,000, and the crowdsourced campaign raised $152,178 by the time it ended on May 21.
The first project is a center in Malawi, where a high percentage of the population is HIV-positive, with additional locations planned in Kenya and Uganda. In each location, the 30/30 Project is working with an established nonprofit already involved with delivering health care services, such as Partners In Health.
Though the initial campaign is complete, the 30/30 Project is still welcoming those who wish to contribute or get involved. Visit 3030project.org for more information.