Ryan Lewis is going public with a very personal story. The music producer -- one-half of the Grammy-winning hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis -- revealed on Tuesday, April 22, that his mom, Julie Lewis, is HIV-positive.
Lewis, 26, tweeted the news as part of an announcement about the 30/30 Project, a nonprofit he created with his mom and Macklemore to provide access to affordable healthcare worldwide. "A huge part of what's made me who I am, is something I haven't talked about in interviews, until now," he wrote, along with a link to the fundraising page for the project.
A longer message appears on the organization's official site. "If I could just take a few moments of your time, I'd love to tell you about the strongest woman that I know, my mom, Julie Lewis," the note begins.
It goes on to detail how Julie contracted HIV. "In 1984, my mom gave birth to my older sister, Teresa. Due to a complicated delivery, she needed a blood transfusion and at that moment, my mom had HIV+ blood put into her body," Lewis writes. "When she was finally diagnosed, she was given only a few years to live."
Thanks to the miracle of modern medicine and accessible healthcare, however, Julie is alive today. "To honor the 30 years my mom has been a survivor, our family is raising funds to build health centers worldwide that will stand strong for at least 30 years," Lewis explains, noting that the Seattle-based nonprofit Construction for Change has signed on as a partner. "We're calling it the 30/30 Project."
The initial goal of the project is to raise $100,000 to build a health center in the Neno District of Malawi, Africa, where 1 in 10 people are HIV-positive, according to the 30/30 website. That will be followed, Lewis hopes, by three clinics in different cities in Kenya and a training center in Uganda. Donors will receive gifts depending on how much they contribute; rewards include T-shirts, tote bags, signed Macklemore & Ryan Lewis merchandise, and concert tickets to a future M&RL show.