CHARLOTTE — Jordan Mitzel, born in the spring of 1998 to an alcoholic, HIV-infected and crack-addicted prostitute, has survived much in his short life. He battled the affects of fetal alcohol syndrome and drug addiction from the moment he arrived. Seems like a real horror tale, but he was lucky because his mother left him at the hospital and he was placed with Beverly Mitzel and Sonja Austin at just five days old. Eventually, they would become his new moms. (For the full story, visit

Since 2007, participants at the annual Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN) AIDS Walk have seen him in full force, taking to the streets to help raise monies for HIV/AIDS causes. In fact, he has been a top fundraiser and has received awards for doing so. He’s got his own website and Facebook page that shares his story and his initiatives, in addition to postings on YouTube. He has a recycling project which helps to collect contribution dollars for the Walk. He’ll even secretly land a flock of flamingos on the lawn of unknowing people whose friends have made contributions to the Walk’s cause.

His work recently caught the eye of POZ Magazine which showcased him in a feature interview. He said that his greatest achievement was “helping change people’s ideas about HIV.” He goes on to say that Ryan White is his hero and was able to meet White’s mother who shared that she was proud of him for raising so much money.

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen is QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director. She can be reached at and 704-531-9988,...