Ruth Coker Burks cared for over 1,000 people during the height of the AIDS epidemic, most of whom had been rejected by their families.
In 1984, Ruth Coker Burks' discovery of a hospital room door with a "big, red bag" over it and her encounter with the dying young man inside changed her life — and led her to becoming the final caregiver for hundreds of people dying of AIDS, most of them young gay men who had been abandoned by their families. When Ruth, then 26 years old, learned how many young men were being left to die alone and often were not even being claimed for burial, she recalls thinking, "Who knew there’d come a time when people didn’t want to bury their children?” Over the next ten years, Burks estimates that she helped care for over 1,000 people dying of AIDS and even dug the graves for 40 of them herself in her family's cemetery. In recognition of her 62nd birthday, we're sharing Burks' inspiring story — and the powerful and timeless lesson it teaches about the power of compassion to overcome fear and prejudice. Continue reading Continue reading