Survivor stars promote AIDS movie screening


When Ethan Zohn was in Kenya, competing for $1 million on “Survivor: Kenya,” he visited a… When Ethan Zohn was in Kenya, competing for $1 million on “Survivor: Kenya,” he visited a hospital and met some children in the parking lot. Zohn pulled out his luxury item — a Hacky Sack — and they began to play.

Upon leaving, he was told by a nurse that his Hacky Sack partners were all HIV-positive.

When Zohn finally won the contest, and the money, he knew he had a unique opportunity. He has since started his own organization to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, called “Grassroots Soccer,” which teaches children in Africa about the virus through soccer games.

“That experience alone changed my life, and I decided to come back and use my fame and my money to help fight this,” Zohn said at a Greek Week event focusing on HIV/AIDS.

Fraternities and sororities packed the double auditorium in David Lawrence Hall to help gain understanding for their organizations and to see a documentary titled “A Closer Walk,” focusing on the spread of HIV and AIDS around the world and its effects on the poor and the unfortunate.

“This is a story about the way the world is,” a voice-over said during the movie. “It is a world where the human right to health does not exist.”

The movie followed the lives of people around the world affected by AIDS — drug users in Russia, orphans in Uganda and women in India, as well as activists who have pledged to fight the spread of the disease. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and Bono, the lead singer for U2, both made appearances in the film.

“A Closer Walk” frequently used statistics to put the video into context. Every day, 10,000 people die of AIDS, and 95 percent of people with AIDS live in the developing world.

The movie also gave advice to everyday people regarding how they can help. Parents should talk to their kids, and people should contribute money to organizations and push their leaders to talk about the issue, the movie advised.

The movie ended with the message that “Hope feeds life; the absence of hope destroys it.”

Jenna Morasca, a former Pitt student and “Survivor” winner, gave her reasons for attending the event.

“Ethan made me come,” Morasca said, adding that she plans on returning to Pitt to finish her bachelor’s degree.

“I just feel I have more options here, class-wise,” she added. “It’s got more of a campus feel.”

Meghan McCaffrey, one of the Greek Week overall chairpersons, was not surprised by the number of students who showed up to watch the film.

“It is mandatory for new members [to attend],” she said, adding that initiated brothers and sisters are not required to attend.

During Greek Week, fraternities and sororities attend activities and participate in fundraising events in order to be considered the best Greek organization on campus.

Jayme Rubright, a development associate at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Foundation, thanked the Greek community at Pitt for its fund-raising efforts, which Rubright said has raised more than $500,000 since 1997.

“The Greeks at Pitt have been a great support for the foundation,” she said. “It seems only natural that they should be here.”

Anthony Piro, a sophomore and member of Delta Tau Delta, commented that the documentary conveyed a powerful message.

“It’s everyone’s problem,” Piro said. “It’s not like we can isolate ourselves from something like this.”