EAST WENATCHEE — Julie Stimpson-Lewis, a 1976 Eastmont High School grad, HIV survivor and founder of the 30/30 Project, is the Eastmont Foundation’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2019.
She will be honored during EHS graduation ceremonies on June 7. The award recognizes achievements by EHS alumni who have shown commitment to their careers, community and country through examples they set after graduation.
Stimpson-Lewis, who in high school was active in drill team — serving as co-captain her senior year — went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in biology education and earth sciences from the University of Washington and her graduate degree from Western Washington University.
Complications from the birth of her daughter Teresa in 1984 led to a blood transfusion that unknowingly exposed her to HIV.
She was diagnosed in 1990 — told she had only a few years to live and that her two younger children, Laura and Ryan, born after the transfusion, had a 25 percent chance of having been born HIV-positive.
Testing showed the children were not infected with the virus, nor was her husband.
Stimpson-Lewis continued her fight to survive. She spent the next decade working for the Spokane Regional Health District and Spokane AIDS network.
In 2014, after 30 years beating the odds, she celebrated by launching the 30/30 Project with the goal of building 30 health centers around the world to improve access to communities impacted by HIV/AIDS. She got some help from her family, including son Ryan Lewis, a musician and record producer, part of the duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Working in partnership with Construction for Change, a Seattle-based nonprofit, the 30/30 Project has completed 18 facilities in nine countries across four continents, with another 10 under construction.
Stimpson-Lewis received the Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award in 2015, presented by the Africa Rising Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and PTTOW (Plan to Take on the World).