Dawn Wolff, the "mother of Camp Heartland," died on Monday, August 16, 2010. Wolff was the mother of Nile Sandeen, the boy whose HIV status caused uproar in Mequon, Wisconsin. After learning of Sandeen’s struggle in 1991, Neil Willenson founded One Heartland, a camp for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Neil Willenson commented on Wolff’s life yesterday, “Her willingness to speak openly about AIDS back in 1990, when few did so, ultimately led to the creation of One Heartland. Without Dawn's courage, thousands of children and volunteers would never have experienced Camp Heartland. The genesis of my 20 year journey in the HIV fight – and that of so many others – was Dawn’s desire to create a world that was far more accepting and understanding regarding HIV/AIDS. She was a powerful voice for acceptance and HIV education at a time when few women publicly disclosed their HIV status. She was a role model who was truly ahead of her time.”
Wolff is survived by her parents Don and Jackie Wolff, her sons Nile and Sean Sandeen, a grandchild and many other family members.
“My mother spent her life working towards tolerance and acceptance of those living with HIV/AIDS in our community and communities across the country. If there was any message that she wants to come from her death it is the same message of education, prevention, and love for the AIDS community. Just as she lived a life of hope we grieve and commend her to God with hope. She did not lose, AIDS did not win. To the contrary, AIDS, like death has no dominion over her,” stated Nile Sandeen, Wolff’s son who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and is attending Luther Seminary.
Funeral details will be determined in the coming days.