aids

There are many ways to get hurt, but one of the most dangerous is the stampede. Caused by people pushing the people in front of them. It can lead to serious crush injuries. In December of 1991, at a City College gymnasium in New York, New York, a benefit basketball game was being held to benefit AIDS education. In a zealous attempt to bring in as much money as possible, the facility was jammed with as many as 2,000 people over capacity. To make matters worse, a group of gate-crashers tried to push their way into the already overcrowded gymnasium. Thus sparked a stampede that crushed hundreds of ticketholders at the bottom of a basement staircase. Most of the injuries happened near the door to an underground gym that was packed with thousands of spectators.

The problem with this type of situation is the the people in front get pressed tightly between a wall, and the people behind them. Chief medical examiner, Charles Hirsch said, “the eight people killed all were asphyxiated…squeezed front to back…in the stairwell.” The victims included three women and five men and ranged in age from 16 to 28…Sonia Williams 20, Leonard Nelson 17, Dirk Swain 20, Charise Noel, Jubal Rainey 15, Yul Dargan 24, and Darren Brown 29, were among the dead. Videotape shot from the bleachers revealed a seriously overcrowded gymnasium…at least 2,000 people more than its legal capacity of 2,730 and that tickets were still being sold at the door. “It was oversold,” said Mayor David Dinkins.

The stampede pushed most of the victims down the stairs, squeezed them through a doorway and onto the gym floor. They tripped and fell over others waiting there, only to be crushed themselves by the next human wave. “It was a cone effect,” said ambulance worker Sy Collins. “The door opens and there were bodies on the floor and people were just running over them.” Bodies piled up as many as six high. The 29 people who sustained crushing injuries included five Emergency Medical Service staffers, some of whom were mauled as the crowd fought over their services.

According to authorities and witnesses, by late afternoon thousands of people had lined up outside the City College gym in upper Manhattan for what was billed as the “Heavy D and Puff Daddy Celebrity Charity Basketball Game” to benefit AIDS education. The teams were to be captained by Heavy D and Puff Daddy, both rap stars. A recorded telephone message told callers that all of the $12 advance tickets had been sold, but that tickets could be bought at the door for $20. Chief of Patrol Mario Salvaggi said the school’s security director called the police before the game and asked for help because the event was sold out. Police who arrived at 5:00 p.m. found a crowd of between 500 and 700 were milling around outside on Convent Avenue. The game was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m., and the doors opened at 5:00 p.m. Ticketholders passed through a glass door at street level, walked down a 12 foot wide staircase, and passed through a single metal door into the gym. By 7:00 p.m., the game still had not started, and people out on the street began pushing to get inside. A locked glass door was smashed, and people rushed into the gym building. Randy Jones, 30, of the Bronx who was standing inside the door to the gym, said that a woman collecting money at the door got up, took a can holding the night’s receipts, ran into the gym and closed the metal doors behind her, leaving the crowd up in the stairwell. Eventually event organizers began letting people from the stairwell into the gym, but only a few at a time, Jones said. Finally people from the stairs began streaming into the gym, colliding with scores standing inside the door. Soon the floor was covered with injured people. 

Princes visit AfricaMost people think of Prince Harry as a playboy, and to a degree I suppose they are right, but there is a side of him that most people never see. Prince Harry has a heart for the children who, sadly, have been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in Lesotho. He has visited the small African nation several times since 2006 when he set up Sentebale with the help of his good friend Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, who is the younger brother of the king of the small African nation of Lesotho. I had the opportunity to watch a segment a while back about the prince and his charity, and I was very impressed with the love he had for those children…and the love they had for him. He was not aloof with them at all, which is what most of us would expect from royalty, or any politician. His interactions with these children was honest, open, and sincere, unlike so many who lightly shake the hand of their admirers, or politely kiss their babies. No, he showed a love and respect for them that was so obviously real, and in turn, they came out in droves to see the person they loved back. I was very moved by that segment, and I’m quite sure I’m not really doing my feelings justice, because it was so amazing.

Prince Harry walked through their villages, and gathered information on what they needed an how they were doing. He took the time to speak to the children…to find out what their interests were…and what they needed, worried about, and indeed, feared. These children had no parents, and those caring for them, while loving people, are often stretched to their limits in time to spend with each individual child, so to have a Prince from England come and take the time to spend with them…personally…well, it must have seemed surreal to them, and yet, here he was, and it wasn’t the first time. He named is charity Sentebale for a reason. Sentebale means “forget-me-not” in the language of the Lesotho people. It is the word they use when bidding farewell, so that they will remember those who have Prince Harry visits the Lesotho Child Counselling Unit in Maseru, Lesotholeft their presence for a time. He wanted them to know that he was not going to forget about them. And he has not.

Prince Harry is my 19th cousin on my dad’s side of the family, so what he does interests me, whether it interests other people or not, but even those who aren’t particularly interested in the Royals, must admit, that Prince Harry’s work on this charity and the others he is also a part of with his brother and sister-in-law, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, make him more than many people thought him to be. And to top it off…he’s an uncle now, to little Prince George. Today is my cousin, Prince Harry’s birthday. Happy birthday Prince Harry!! I hope you have a wonderful day!!

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