Cause Celeb highlights a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This week, we speak with WNBA player Candice Wiggins about her efforts to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and how her father’s death has influenced her. Selected third overall in the 2008 WNBA draft, Wiggins is a guard for the Minnesota Lynx. She is the daughter of the late Alan Wiggins, MLB second baseman and left fielder who died of complications from AIDS in 1991.
Candice Wiggins is a spokesperson for Until There’s A Cure, a national organization that raises money and awareness to combat HIV/AIDS through the sale of "The Bracelet," a quarter-inch band with a raised AIDS ribbon on the side.
Q: Can you tell me about Until There’s A Cure?
Wiggins: Until There’s A Cure is a nonprofit organization. It’s basically dedicated to eradicating AIDS. It’s very simple. It’s promoting education, but the title kind of speaks for itself, it’s very straightforward. Until There’s A Cure … this is what we are going to be about. They sell bracelets and there’s advertisements that they put in magazines and things like that. But the main thing is that they sell bracelets to help promote education, eradicating …everything like that.
Q: How did you get involved in Until There’s A Cure?
Wiggins: I think during the 2008 NCAA tournament, the Final Four, I guess the people with Until There’s A Cure heard my story. They were watching it on TV and so they just contacted me and it was actually the perfect time to get involved in it, as I was just finishing my college career and becoming a professional. It really just worked in a harmonious way, just kind of happened. I was like, “Sure, I’d love to be a part of this.” It just made sense.
Q: And what is your role?
Wiggins: I did an advertisement. I’m just promoting it. Just another … I guess, celebrity endorser.
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Q: What are your thoughts on your father’s death from AIDS?
Wiggins: I have a lot of thoughts, but basically, it really touches on the fact that it’s important for children to understand it. I was really young when my father passed away. He died in 1991, so it’s come a long way. Just our education and knowledge about it. Just the fact that it is a horrible thing, but that it’s very real.
Back then, when my father died it was really one of those things that no one really discussed. But now, it’s affecting so many more. It’s so widespread now that everyone kind of has to get involved and at least be knowledgeable, if anything else.
Q: What is rewarding for you about being involved?
Wiggins: Just hearing people say that, “Oh, I hear how heartfelt your story is, it really inspired me.” Just the fact that people are like, “Oh, I bought a bracelet, I wear my bracelet everyday. I’m with you on this.” A lot of people tell me that. “I got a bracelet and I wear it.” It makes it more of a community thing. I think that’s the most rewarding part about it, that a piece of jewelry or something can unite a community against something that is so horrible.
Q: Is there one memory that stands out for you while working with Until There’s A Cure?
Wiggins: Actually, there is. Last summer, we were playing Connecticut at home and the whole day was centered around Until There’s A Cure. They had a booth set up at the Target Center, here where we play. I don’t know how many fans were here, let's say like 8,000 fans, and they all got a bracelet. Until There’s A Cure. But it was green and blue, Lynx colors, and they said “Until” and it was rubber, like a Livestrong bracelet.
It was just so cool because it was like … basketball. We play basketball. People coming to the game, they were able to get a bracelet and they were informed about it. The bracelet had a little pamphlet on it and they talked about Until There’s A Cure. So it was like partnering with the Lynx. So, it was like destiny fulfilled. I’m playing basketball and fans coming to the basketball game are each going to have a souvenir to leave with them about this cause that I’m so passionate about. I think that was pretty cool.
Q: What can other people do to help?
Wiggins: I think it's just being educated about yourself, about your health, and taking pride in that. I think a bracelet is just a way to add yourself to the community. Even if you don’t want to contribute that way, just really going out there and being educated about AIDS/HIV. Knowing the statistics, getting tested, and just really being more sympathetic to the people who are living with HIV/AIDS, and just being aware.
Interviewed by Kelly Rippin, NBC News
© 2013 NBCNews.com Reprints