Jim Hughes (left) and Robb (right) listen as a contractor describes some work that is needed in the shelter.
The race was on in early December, 1995, as Robb and a group of volunteers worked to get a homeless shelter ready for HIV and AIDS clients in the Quad Cities. Robb wanted very badly to have the shelter open by December 15th, but it was obvious that was not going to happen.
Kelli Hughes and her husband, Jim joined the volunteers, tearing off drywall and helping with a variety of tasks. Kelli was HIV positive, and she is still alive and well in 2015, which no one expected when we shot this story.
Robb was working so hard, but when watching this story, it is obvious that he is not feeling well. He isn’t smiling as much, and you can see the distress in his eyes from his illness.
Still, it is hard to believe that he only had four months to live as Christmas was approaching 20 years ago. The house he was so passionate about would be dedicated in his memory and named “Robb’s House.”
As you watch this, please keep in mind that you can honor Robb, help support Robb’s House, and keep his legacy alive by donating to the DeLaCerda House, a wonderful organization providing housing and support for people living with HIV and AIDS. Just visit their website at www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click the “Donate” button on the right side of the page.
Robb, Kelli Hughes and Beth Wehrman arrive to speak to a church group in Davenport – September, 1995.
Kelli Hughes was a college student when she had sex during a one-night stand with a young man who infected her with HIV.
One mistake changed her life.
She became Robb Dussliere’s friend. Twenty years ago this week, Robb and Kelli spoke to a group of teens at a Davenport church about how they could avoid HIV. The appearance was organized by Beth Wehrman, who was Executive Director of the AIDS Project Quad Cities at the time.
When we shot this story in September, 1995, Kelli thought it would be a miracle to reach her 30th birthday, and she did not think a 50th birthday was even possible.
You want some good news? Kelli is still with us and she is only 4 or 5 years from hitting that 50-year mark. That’s how good the medication has become for those who contract HIV.
Take a look at the story and see how bleak her future looked 20 years ago. The new medications were just preparing to hit the market. We did not realize it at the time, but the new drugs came along in time to save Kelli, but not in time to save Robb.
Kelli and her husband and children (which they had using artificial insemination) are living in St. Charles, Missouri. I am attempting to contact her to catch up, but here is a story about Kelli that appeared in a Dewitt, Iowa newspaper five years ago.
There are still many people who are shunned and lose their jobs when they acquire HIV. Please help the DeLaCerda House by donating a few dollars to help support these people. It was Robb’s great passion in the last few months of his life. Follow this link and click on the Donate button on the right side of the page.