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Dale Thele delivering the keynote address at the 2016 Hill Country Ride for AIDS opening ceremony
HIV/AIDS Advocate/Author/Writer/Speaker


"Dale, who has been diagnosed with AIDS,
is one of Travis County's most well-known AIDS activist
"
- Central Health Austin

"Despite occasional health challenges of living with AIDS, Dale finds strength and unending energy in the countless opportunities he creates to help others. Dale is a force for good guided by unrelenting principles, thankfulness, and a tireless drive to make a difference in the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS."
- Prentiss Douthit
Ride Director
, Hill Country Ride for AIDS

Born and raised in North-Central Oklahoma, Dale grew up in the small oil company town of Ponca City. After graduating high school, Dale attended two years at Oklahoma City University.Then he traveled west until his southern roots beckoned him to the land of Dixie. He settled in Austin, Texas in 1984 and it's been his residence ever since.

Dale retired after 30 years in retail after receiving a Stage-3 HIV (advanced AIDS) diagnoses on World AIDS Day 2012. Currently, Dale is a central Texas grassroots HIV/AIDS Advocate, serves on the Austin Area Comprehensive HIV Planning Council, and champions human rights causes. He strives to be the human embodiment and positive voice of HIV/AIDS by living his life in a publicly transparent fashion.

 

Selected Quotes by Dale Thele

 

"My one true desire is to be the human embodiment and positive voice of HIV/AIDS"

 

"Live each day to the fullest - so that you raise the bar on tomorrow's accomplishments."

 

"I want to be remembered for WHO I WAS - not as a person who lived with AIDS"

 

"ACCEPT the positive, rather than EXPECT it; embrace the experience without disappointment ."

 

"You can't fully understand HIV until you've walked in my shoes.
But, I'd be honored if you'd walk BESIDE me."

 

"Navigating a life with HIV has detours and roadblocks, but that's not an excuse to stop living."

 

"Caregivers are angels who walk among us, disguised as ordinary everyday people,
who time and time again answer prayers and make extraordinary miracles happen."

 

"Our hearts are the pulse of human empathy and care, the beats of hope, the rhythm of compassion,
and the thump thump of desire to make our world a better place."

 

"When I look back on my life, I envision vignettes tied together with themed segues creating blocks of memories and learned lessons.
I transition from one phase of my life to another like chapters of a book;
hopefully bettering myself as each phase comes to a close
while reinventing myself as each new chapter unfolds."

 

Videos, Speeches & Media

 


Originally published in July 21, 2017

 "I’m a living and breathing example that HIV is not a life sentence."

It's an honor that POZ.com selected to include my story in POZ STORIES with so many amazing individuals living with HIV/AIDS; real people impacting their communities in positive ways. For me, it wasn't so much about participating in the interview, as it provided an opportunity to recognize and applaud my HIV/AIDS community hero: Prentiss Douthit, ride director of the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, the largest AIDS Fundraising event in Central Texas, benefiting 10 local AIDS service organizations. Through his immense capacity of love for others and his untiring dedication to the annual ride, Prentiss' warm heart and impressive character shines through. My hero may not wear a satin cape, but he can sure fill his spandex (bike apparel) REAL NICE.

Online Printed Interview: https://www.poz.com/article/dale-thele

Click to open PDF version

 

 




Two-Sided Promocard released on April 28, 2017
by Project Transitions, Inc

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook April 28, 2017

Late on Halloween night of 2015 I was getting ready for bed at my sister's home in Hutto. My sister had gone out for a walk in the neighborhood. There was a knock at the door, I ignored it because the trick-or-treaters had long since gone home. But the knock was persistent. I finally answered the door to be greeted by a police officer. He and the next door neighbor informed me that my sister had been struck by a car while she crossed the street, and she was being transported by ambulance to the hospital.

For the previous couple of years, I'd depended on my sister's help with everyday chores because I was too ill to do many things for myself, due to my AIDS diagnosis. Now, I had to be dependent on myself as she recovered from a fractured leg and broken collar bone. My sister had taken care of me when I had been ill, now was my time to care for her. It was a challenge, since I was still weak. I helped her to and from the bathroom, in and out of bed, and managed the two-story-three-bedroom house the best I could with my limited ability. Her recovery was slow.

The week before Thanksgiving I found my sister acting oddly (talking to herself and shuffling in circles around the living room). I phoned EMS. The person on the other end of the line gave me instructions before the ambulance arrived. My sister was having a stroke.

For the next month, I was alone in that big house while my sister recovered and underwent physical therapy. In January she returned home, a shell of the sister I had known months before. She required care and constant monitoring I was unable to provide. She had lost some of her motor skills and for much of the time she had no idea who I was or where she was at. In the midst of caring for my sister, I had been accepted for housing at Project Transitions, an apartment for people living with AIDS. I'd been on the waiting list for nearly two years and an opening had come up. I couldn't turn down this opportunity, but I also couldn't leave my sister, not in her current state, but I also knew that I was not physically able to continue to care for her. I had a difficult decision to make: my health or caring for my sister – the person who took me in when I had nowhere to turn. During those stressful months caring for my sister, my doctors repeatedly preached the importance of avoiding stress at all costs - stress and AIDS are not compatible.

So, moving day was emotional. But I had to do it for my health. I had set up at-home-care for my sister and she would receive the medical supervision I wasn't able to provide. We said our teary good-byes and without looking back, I moved into Project Transitions in Austin. The move into my “new” home was exhausting and I was ill for most of the first month – partly exhaustion from worrying and caring for my sister, and partly the relief of the tremendous stress I'd been under.

Why am I relating this story? Project Transitions is one of 10 beneficiary AIDS Service Organizations receiving funds from the 2017 Hill Country Ride for AIDS. My doctors are impressed with how my health has improved in the past year. I have to credit Project Transitions for providing a stress-free environment I call “home” – there is little doubt the move saved my life.

You can help save someone's life by donating to the 2017 Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Every dollar counts. We're in the final fund raising hours before the 2017 Ride. Please share the love and donate:  https://hillcountryride.greatfeats.com/dale-thele

 

 


Originally published in April 2017

CommUnityCare Health Centers (Austin) recently published my story in the
CommUnityCare Health Centers 2017 Annual Report

STORIES OF IMPACT

DALE THELE

World AIDS Day 2012, I awoke at University Medical Center Brackenridge from a two day coma. A staff doctor diagnosed me with Advanced Stage-3 HIV and acute Pneumocystis Pneumonia. His prognosis was not promising: he gave me six months to live, eight at best. A few days later, I was released from Brackenridge with instructions to show up at an in-take appointment made for me at David Powell Clinic.

I kept the scheduled appointment with Dennis Nelson, a case manager at David Powell. Dennis was patient with me throughout the grueling three hours, and asked if I understood the forms I was signing. I recall very little of what he said, I was sick and weak, he had to guide my hand so I could sign the many forms. He treated me with nothing less than the utmost respect and genuine concern.

A few days later, I had my initial appointment with Dr. James Zachary. Together, we set long and short term goals to combat my conditions. He and his nurse Peggy Wright, both treated me with the same genuine care and respect I’d experienced earlier with Dennis Nelson. They didn’t refer to me as a numbered patient, but rather as a human individual. It wasn’t long before I began to consider Dr. Zachary and Peggy Wright, not so much as my doctor and nurse, but as collaborative partners in my continued healthcare. That in itself made a huge impact in my recovery.

It’s been over four years since I first began seeing Dr. Zachary and my health has dramatically improved. Yes, I have several AIDS related complications – they are addressed as needed, but we consider them not as road blocks or set-backs, but as “challenges”. Dr Zachary’s approach to my overall health care has been one of a positive nature. I look back on the dark days of my original diagnosis and compare myself to where I am today; I’m an entirely changed person. CommUnityCare are truly caring professionals united in providing the human elements of community in the field of healthcare.

Today, I see myself as the living embodiment and voice of HIV, through advocacy as an outspoken grassroots HIV/AIDS Advocate. This is my way of giving back to the local community who believed in me and invested in my healthcare. Through various media outlets and public speaking opportunities I’m able to educate, bring about awareness, help curb stigma, and promote fund raising which benefits our Central Texas HIV Community.

CommUnityCare Health Centers 2017 Annual Report (April 2017)

http://communitycaretx.org/about/

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook: April 22, 2017

December 2012, 4 weeks after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. My doctor prescribed 14 medications. There was one I wasn't comfortable taking – I felt strange after taking it. I expressed my concern to my doctor. He told me that no one was having any side affects from that particular medication. I was still leery and I hesitated taking it. The doctor told me it was imperative that I take that medication daily, otherwise I would put myself in jeopardy of dying of pneumocystis pneumonia.

I mustered up the courage to finally resume taking the medication after a light lunch (I still had not regained much of an appetite). Within a half hour of swallowing the pill, I begun to feel strange – it was as if an earthquake was erupting inside me. It started like a nervous twitch in my stomach then rapidly intensified and suddenly my body was convulsing, as if I had palsy. My body was out of control. I panicked and tried to call for my sister who was downstairs. My mouth was not responding, only a barely audible guttural sound escaped my lips. My entire body was flailing and I couldn't stop the violent convulsions. I fell from the chair, I landed with a loud thud on the floor. The sound was enough to alarm my sister. She called out from downstairs, I could hear her, but my mouth was no longer under my control. She climbed the stairs to find me thrashing uncontrollably on the floor. The terror in her eyes tore at my heart, I couldn't speak, although I tried, a whole conversation was playing in my head but it wasn't reaching my mouth.

She phoned the next door neighbors, who carried me downstairs and strapped me into the car. One neighbor sat in the back seat with his arms wrapped around me from behind the front passenger car seat. Yet he struggled to restrain me. The other neighbor spoke to the hospital on his cell phone, while my sister frantically drove toward the hospital.

When we arrived at the Hospital Emergency Entrance, orderlies hoisted me out of the car and strapped me onto a gurney. The last thing I recall were the bright florescent ceiling lights as they whizzed past my vision.

I awoke the next morning on New Years Day 2013 in Intensive Care, the nurse told me I'd had an allergic reaction to one or more of my medications. I knew exactly which medication it was. This would be the first of several "mini-vacations" to the ICU over the coming months, but each trip would be the result of an entirely different complication.

After spending the first 7 days of 2013 in ICU, I was released to see my primary care physician. I was not looking forward to facing the doctor that nearly killed me with a prescription that I had previously suspected was harmful.

The doctor entered the examination room and immediately apologized for prescribing the medication, it turned out that during my 7 days in the hospital he had discovered many of his patients were unable to tolerate that particular medication. From that day forward, my physician and I began to discuss in detail the pros and cons of every medication beforehand, we now work as a team to determine the best treatment options. That 7 days altered my perception of my doctor and the direction of my ongoing treatment.

My New Years encounter came to mind when I realized there are 7 days till the 2017 Hill Country Ride for AIDS. I've experienced first hand how 7 days can change a person's life. YOU can make a change – won't you please help make a positive change in the lives of those (like myself) affected by HIV/AIDS? If each of you, my friends, would give just $5, I will reach my goal of raising $500 for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Please, share the LOVE.

Make your donation online - please: https:// hillcountryride.greatfeats. com/dale-thele

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook: April 15, 2017

Monday afternoon of September 30, 2013 changed my life, it was a simple, everyday act that you take for granted, but for me, it meant the world. You see, nine months before that eventful day I was diagnosed with advanced AIDS. The hospital doctor gave me six months to live, maybe eight at the most. Although AIDS medications and treatments were highly effective against the virus, in my case the virus had already done significant internal havoc. The resident doctor couldn't reasonably fathom the possibility that current medications could halt the damage already done. The world was nothing but a blur to me, I had a past, a present, however a potential future was questionable.

For nine months I existed, I was too ill to say that I was “living”, because to live one interacts with the world around oneself. My only “interaction” was to brace my head over a toilet to expel my guts, or to hope for sleep, praying I'd never wake up, so to put an end to the relentless torture the virus was putting my body through.

On that particular overcast Monday afternoon in 2013, a case manager from Care Communities came to visit with me. I opened the front door and she greeted me with a genuine hug. She had not met me before, she knew little about my situation, but she hugged me anyway. Without hesitation, she wrapped her arms around me as if we were long-lost friends. I imaged the dreaded hugs my grandmother would force upon me and I'd attempt to wiggle away so to catch my breath. But this hug, from a total stranger, was different, it was welcomed. I felt a sense of worth, I felt human, I felt I had value. Tears trickled down my cheeks, I didn't want the warm embrace to end. That simple hug was the first human contact I'd had since I'd been diagnosed with AIDS.

Imagine, the selfless act of sharing a hug with someone could mean the world to them; to me, it was everything. YOU can give a life-changing hug to an individual living with HIV or AIDS by donating to the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. For 17 years, the annual bike ride raises needed funds which benefits ten AIDS Service Organizations in Central Texas, serving thousands of individuals living with HIV and AIDS. Please, share a hug by donating now:https://hillcountryride.greatfeats.com/dale-thele

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook: April 13, 2017

Back in late November of 1978 (I was living in Long Beach, California) Harvey Milk had been shot, we thought we had lost our "voice" as gays and lesbians. But we hadn't lost a voice, we had gained new voices. One of the strongest and loudest was Cleve Jones in the Castro. Cleve was the new voice of reason. He unified gays and lesbians around the country with the courage to stand up-be heard, encouraged us to build bridges between our allies, and to not give up.

In the mid 1990's, I hung up my activists suit and turned over the reigns to the new up-and-coming generation. I had faught for Gay Rights, Human Rights, the Right to Access AIDS Meds, etc. I was tired and the cause needed new, fresh and younger bodies. Cleve Jones was no longer the voice of Gay Rights, he had moved onto a new project: the AIDS Quilt.

Surprisingly, nearly 20 years later, both Cleve and myself reemerged (in different parts of the country) because of a turbulent political climate, one that called for every minority voice to be heard. The dark storm clouds reminiscent of the 70's had returned with the resurgence of hate crimes, injustice and prejudice. Cleve returned to the role of reason, he replaced his megaphone for the internet. Again he's the voice that calls out to keep fighting and to not give up. I'm back on the front lines fighting for multiple social causes. I thought those days were behind me, but I suppose, when there's injustice in the world, the activist in all of us springs back into action.

 

 


2017 Hill Country Ride for AIDS - Living with AIDS

Published on Facebook: April 2, 2017

2017 Hill Country Ride for AIDS 18th year of raising awareness and funds directly benefiting 10 Central Texas AIDS service organizations. Please, share the love:  https://hillcountryride.greatfeats.com/dale-thele

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook: March 12, 2017

I was riding on the bus, returning home from a meeting, when a young man boarded the bus and took the last vacant seat, right next to me. We shared a casual smile and I noticed his gaze settled on my name badge:

Dale Thele 
HIV/AIDS Advocate

Until that moment I hadn't realized I was still wearing my badge.

He looked into my face and said, “What does an HIV/AIDS Advocate do, if you don't mind my asking?”

“No problem. I spend my days listening and helping people living with HIV/AIDS. I attend local planning meetings to discuss and target ways to better assist the HIV/AIDS community. I attend, promote and participate in local area fund raising events. I speak to organizations and lecture at the University about HIV which helps combat the stigmas associated with the condition. I attend and participate in city council meetings and rallies to support those with HIV/AIDS who are unable or don't know how to speak for themselves. I'm at the State Capitol attending rallies, vigils, and frequent visits to state representative's offices to voice concerns about pending state legislation. I express concerns of pending federal legislation at the regional offices of our representatives who work in Washington D.C. I write letters, emails, postcards, and make phone calls to our elected officials. I attend training sessions to learn more about HIV, and about new advancements in treatments and medications. No two days are the same. I may wear a number of 'different hats' in a days time, but at night, I can sleep knowing that I did the best I could for that day, and tomorrow, I'll fight again for the HIV/AIDS community.”

The young man's eye were watery as he choked out a sincere, “thank you.”

I smiled and nodded.

“I really do mean it, you have no idea … just about an hour ago I found out I'm HIV positive.”

 

 


Coming Out Story Video
(Link opens in new window)
Recorded: March 12, 2017
Released: March 16, 2017

The newly forming Austin LGBTQ Center has started an online video library of our coming out stories. We all have a story to tell and through those stories, we may be able to give someone the courage to come out and let them know they are not alone. We have all had to come out in one way or another in the LBGTQ community. Once the Center is open, we will have a dedicated recording studio and will be expanding the online video library to include experiences through the LGBTQ History. Take a few minutes and watch the first batch of videos! Many more will be coming soon!

 

 


Central Health Austin Video featuring CommUnityCare's David Powell Health Center
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Released: January 12, 2017

 

 


Central Health Austin Video
Episode 8 : Dale Thele, Fighting The Battle And Winning The War
(Link opens in new window)
Released: December 1, 2016

By the time of the first [World] AIDS Day – December 1, 1988 – Dale Thele had already faced down the enemy, so to speak – not just the fear of HIV, and the deaths of many of his close friends, but the misinformation and the rush to judgment that the early days of the AIDS epidemic created.

Fast-forward to 2016: Dale, who has been diagnosed with AIDS, is one of Travis County’s most well-known AIDS activists, and a staunch proponent of the services offered by CommUnityCare David Powell Health Center.

 

Released: December 1, 2016

Central Health Austin Podcast
Episode 8: Dale Thele, Fighting The Battle And Winning The War
(Link opens in new window)

* The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act (Ryan White CAREAct, Pub.L. 101–381, 104 Stat. 576, enacted August 18, 1990)

 

 

UT APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists
Dale Addresses the
UT APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists

"INVISIBLES"
October 12, 2016
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Dale Thele and Prentiss Douthit, Ride Director of the Hill Country Ride for AIDS
Dale's Keynote Address
Care Communities 25th Anniversary Silver Linings Gala

"OVER THE RAINBOW"
September 17, 2016
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Dale Thele addressing the Travis County Commissioner's Court
Dale Addresses the Travis County Commisioner's Court
on behalf of Central Health Austin / CommUnityCare / David Powell Health Clinic
Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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Austin American-Statesman Hearing Coverage
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Dale Thele Blog Post
"WHY I BECAME AN HIV/AIDS ADVOCATE"
Originally posted on Facebook: July 19, 2016
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Dale Thele featured in Austin Monthly's articled entitled: The Face of AIDS
Interview in the Austin Monthly magazine:
"THE FACE OF AIDS in AUSTIN"
Published: September 2, 2014
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The Austin Chronicle:
"AUSTIN SURVIVORS ON LIVING WITH AIDS FOR DECADES"
Published: July 20, 2016

 

 



Keynote Address:
2016 Hill Country Ride for AIDS Opening Ceremony
Recorded: April 29, 2016

 

 



KXAN TV Interview:
"WHY WE RIDE"
2016 Hill Country Ride for AIDS
Recorded: April 1, 2016

 

 



Positive messaging video campaign:
"MY POSITIVE MESSAGE"

RiseUpToHIV
Published: July 16, 2016

 

 



"REALITY OF HIV STIGMA"
Originally posted on Facebook: July 16, 2016

 

 



"VOICES"
A simple, easy to understand HIV/AIDS PSA video clip. Let YOUR Voice be heard!
Originally posted on Facebook: August 4, 2016

 

 



"THANK YOU"
PSA Video Clip
Originally posted on Facebook: August 20, 2016

Some of the many outstanding individuals who have made a lasting impression on my life: (1) Sir Elton John; (2) Elizabeth Taylor; (3) Earvin "Magic" Johnson; (4) Mikhail “Mikee” Carreon Taggueg, Founder/ HIV advocate/ HIV Counselor at The Cagayan Valley Support System, Philippines; (5) Rock Hudson; (6) Prentiss Douthit, Hill Country Ride for AIDS Ride Director; (7) standing: Glenda Whitehead, Gwen Kingery, Maxine Carstedt, seated: Barbara Graham. Not pictured: Linden Zimmerman; (8) Edgar Gierbolini, former Development Director at Care Communities and Ken Martin, former Executive Director at Care Communities; (9) David Powell, founder of the David Powell (HIV) Clinic, Austin, Tx; (10) Gregory Revenj, HIV Advocate; (11) Ryan White

 

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