In October Candice Wiggins enjoyed a WNBA championship run with the Minnesota Lynx. This off-season the 24-year-old guard is focusing on a more serious issue: Being an advocate for AIDS research and people who are living with the disease. Wiggins has a strong tie to AIDS. Her father, Alan, a former major-league second baseman, passed away due to complications from the disease in 1991, when Candice was three years old.
Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day, an occasion that seeks to raise awareness of the disease that still does not have a cure. Wiggins spoke with SIKIDS.com this afternoon about how her dad continues to inspire her, how she's trying to help, and ways kids can help in the fight against AIDS.
SI KIDS: What is the significance of World AIDS Day for you?
Wiggins: My dad was a professional baseball player, an incredible athlete. He was a legendary base stealer. But when he died, AIDS became his identity. I was a child when this happened. For me, this day means honoring his legacy but also having hope and optimism and giving positive information and being a resource, and understanding that his death was not in vain.
SI KIDS: What are some things you do throughout the year in working with AIDS patients and helping to find a cure?
Wiggins: I work with a lot of organizations like Until There's a Cure and the Children Affected By AIDS Foundation. I also did a campaign for Greater Than AIDS, a non-profit organization, in which I talked about my story in depth. And when I was at Stanford I went and spoke with people who are HIV positive. It was such a powerful moment. Afterward, I was so inspired. I told them that everything I do is for you and that we're all in it together. To me, that's the best thing I can do - share my story with people.
SI KIDS: What are some things that kids can do to help the fight against AIDS?
Wiggins: I would say [it's important to] understand that AIDS is four words [Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome] and that it means something. And remember that the choices you make in life have consequences. Also, when it comes to AIDS, you have to understand that it attacks the immune system and the way it's transmitted is through blood. You can't catch it by [somebody] sneezing [on you]. It's not that kind of disease. I want kids to be compassionate and caring about people who have AIDS and not look at them as outcasts. And it's ok to have questions about it. Figure out what questions you have and ask an adult. Don't be afraid of the answer.