In 2007, 330,000 children died from the AIDS pandemic. Children affected by AIDS get ridiculed, even if they contract AIDS via birth or breast feeding. Some kids have even gotten kicked out of church on Easter Sunday. Camp Heartland — located in Malibu, California and Minnesota — is a place for kids affected by AIDS to be themselves and not hide what has happened. Seventy campers have died from AIDS, including three just last year. On December 6, 2008, David Archuleta, along with other celebrities, came to perform a free tree lighting ceremony event at the Hollywood and Highland Center in Hollywood, California to raise awareness and money for the charity, One Heartland.
The event started with opening acts Bettina singing “American Christmas” and Josh Pope performing “O Holy Night” and “Ava Maria.” Bettina has a beautiful voice and was wearing a very beautiful white dress. Josh Pope’s voice was very graceful. The crowd was captivated by them both, and enjoyed drinking free Starbucks coffee and hot chocolate. There were about 20 Santas in the crowd, enjoying the show as well.
Two campers talked, breaking the audience’s hearts. Their names were Kalayah and Oriana. Kalayah said, “Don’t Let AIDS stop you from having fun.” She was such a cute girl, so happy. There was also a video of the campers.
Jonathan Bennett (National Lampoon’s Van Wilder Freshman Year, Mean Girls) has actually gone to Camp Heartland in Malibu and Minnesota. He said, “It’s the most amazing place in the world. So much hope, so much love. It’s one place a year that these kids get to go and be with other kids like themselves.”
David Archuleta is so sweet and was genuinely appreciative of his fans. Very nice. People gave him flowers. While giving interviews (pictured at left, being interviewed by me), he made sure to wave to his fans. The American Idol star said going from being a regular teen to one of the most recognized teens was “pretty interesting. At the beginning of the year, I could just go out and eat, hang out at the mall, whatever with my friends. Now, it’s not exactly the same case.” He laughed, “It’s more running. You get quite a workout. Usually it’s okay.” Last week, one fan came up to him and starting kissing him. He laughed again. “Usually fans are pretty great. They’re really good and supportive. They enjoy what you do.”
David performed (pictured at right) “A Little Too Not Over You,” “Imagine", “Silent Night,” “Crush,” and “A Thousand Miles” (by Vanessa Carleton). When I got home, I promptly bought David’s album off of Amazon. He was very passionate about what he does and had very good stage presence.
Alexis Martucci, 15, said the concert was “good for the people to get into the Christmas spirit,” and “it was very good to raise money for people that can’t.”
Her brother, Noah, 10, said, “Everyone had fun with their one favorite American Idol.”
Other stars in attendance included Christopher and Kyle Massey (Zoey 101 and That’s So Raven/Cory in the House). Neither of the boys knew anyone with AIDS. Christopher said, “It’s a really cool cause. They have a camp where kids are just free to be themselves. And not feel pressure and be contained.”
Robbie Amell (True Jackson, VP, Picture This, Scooby Doo, pictured right) said, “The camp is the most amazing place. It’s so much fun. They just get to be kids. It’s something they just don’t get to experience in everyday life.” He’s going back to the camp this summer, “hopefully Minnesota and Malibu.”
Jennette McCurdy (iCarly), Austin Anderson (Hannah Montana), Sammi Hanratty (Suite Life of Zack and Cody, American Girl), Joey Luthman (Weeds, American Carol), and Olesya Rulin (High School Musical) also attended the event.
The Christmas tree (35 feet with 30,000 lights) sparkled during the performance and there was a special performance for those who donated 100 dollars or more. December is World AIDS month and it’s also a month of giving. Consider donating to One Heartland. It will really make some kid’s day.
To donate to this camp and learn more, visit One Heartland's official website.