Part One of Emily Scarlett’s series updating Robb’s Life 20 years later was broadcast last night on WHBF Local 4 News in Rock Island, Illinois, the station where the series originally ran 20 years ago.
The purposes of bringing the original series back on this blog in “real time” this year is to honor Robb’s legacy, continue his mission to educate people about how to avoid HIV, and to raise funds for the cause that was his focus during the last months of his life — the DeLaCerda House, which provides housing and support for homeless HIV and AIDS clients in the Quad Cities.
Click this link to see part 1 of Emily Scarlett’s series. Part 2 airs tonight at 10 on WHBF, featuring Robb’s doctor, Dr. Louis Katz, who talks about Robb’s impact and the AIDS situation 20 years later.
You can donate to the DeLaCerda House by clicking this link and then clicking the “Donate” button on the right side of the page.
Robb sits outside of Davenport West High School in late October, 1995.
In late October, 1995, the leaves were changing color and falling, and Robb Dussliere was seeing his last autumn. He and Beth Wehrman were invited to a class at Davenport West High School to speak to students about how to avoid HIV and AIDS.
It was at this point that Robb’s bravery hit home with me. After being sick a few weeks before, he willingly appeared before a room full of teenagers even though any of them could have sneezed and given him the bug that could kill him. But Robb wanted to spend his remaining time educating — not just with our TV news series, but also face-to-face, and especially with young people.
Afterwards, we went outside and sat on a bench for the interview part of the story. It was a sunny, autumn day.
You can help keep Robb’s legacy alive and help provide shelter for homeless HIV and AIDS clients. Please donate to the DeLaCerda House by going to www.delacerdahouseinc.org
and clicking on the “Donate” button on the right side of the page.
Robb clowns around as the visiting nurse checks the insertion site on his arm.
In late September, 1995, Robb was in the middle of a 21-day drug treatment for cytomegalovirus, a common virus associated with AIDS. The drug was more toxic than chemotherapy.
A visiting nurse stopped by several times a week to check how he was doing, clean the arm where the tube was inserted, and make sure he wasn’t having trouble with the machine administering the drug.
Robb had been sick for a couple of weeks and he was getting a lot of mail at WHBF-TV, and I would take the cards and letters to him.
This episode shows the visiting nurse, and Robb discusses the mail he is getting, including one horrible letter from someone in Clinton, Iowa.
This blog is recreating Robb’s Life as it originally aired during the last year of Robb Dussliere’s life. Please help keep Robb’s legacy alive and donate a few dollars to the DeLaCerda House — Robb’s favorite charity that provides housing for homeless HIV and AIDS clients in the Quad Cities. Go to www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click the Donate button on the right side of the screen.
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.
On September 13, 1995, this episode of Robb’s Life aired on WHBF-TV. Robb had been very sick the week before, and he and his parents, Lorney and Hattie Dussliere, realized they needed to select a headstone for their grave and check that item off the to-do list.
Robb barely smiled during this video shoot at Moline Monument, although you can hear him laugh during his first comment about the three of them agreeing “quickly for a change.” It was obvious he was not feeling well.
Help keep Robb’s legacy alive! Donate to the DeLaCerda House and help provide shelter and support for homeless HIV and AIDS clients. Go to www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click on the “Donate” button on the right side of the page.
Robb prepares for a scoping procedure in September, 1995.
In early September, 1995, Robb Dussliere was in continuous pain from a throat infection. He was also running a fever.
Dr. Louis Katz arranged for Robb to go to Genesis for a scoping procedure.
It was obvious that Robb’s health had declined in the five months since we began our series. His eyes have the appearance of someone who is ill, and it appears he has lost weight. But he continues to push on, meeting everything with a matter-of-fact attitude.
I was surprised and grateful for the unusual access I was given with my camcorder in the hospital.
Donate to the DeLaCerda House and help keep Robb’s legacy alive. Please donate a few dollars to help support homeless HIV and AIDS clients in the Quad Cities. Go to www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click on the “Donate” button on the right side of the page. On behalf of Robb, thank you.
Robb and his brother, John Dussliere.
Robb’s younger brother, John Dussliere, came to visit in late August, 1995. Robb’s health was starting to yo-yo every day, feeling fine earlier in the day and sometimes feeling bad later.
They loved to jet-ski, so they took one out to the Mississippi River and enjoyed the day.
Robb later believed he picked something up in the river that day that caused him to begin spiraling downward. With virtually no immune system remaining, it was a possibility.
This story aired on WHBF-TV on the 10:00 news, August 28, 1995.
Robb was dedicated to providing shelter and support to homeless people living with HIV and AIDS in the Quad Cities area. Please help keep Robb’s legacy alive by donating a few dollars to the DeLaCerda House. Follow this link — www.delacerdahouseinc.org — and click on the Donate button on the right side of the page. Thank you.