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OXNARD : AIDS Care Sponsors Message for Magic

Many of the children who signed a card for Earvin (Magic) Johnson on Saturday didn’t seem to know what was wrong with the famous basketball star. The young well-wishers only knew that their hero was sick.

“They just know they’re doing it for Magic. . . . The saddest messages are the ones that say ‘get well,’ ” said Nancy Pedersen, a volunteer with Ventura-based AIDS Care Inc., which sponsored the daylong signing project at the Centerpoint Mall in Oxnard.

Johnson announced earlier this month that he was retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers because he had tested positive for the HIV virus. He will receive the scroll filled with messages this week, volunteer Mark Lager said.

The scroll--about two feet wide and 25 feet long--was filled with notes scrawled with purple or gold markers. About 200 people wrote messages Saturday morning, and about 400 messages were expected by the end of the day, organizers said.

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The event was also an opportunity for AIDS Care volunteers to distribute pamphlets about AIDS and answer questions.

“In a sense, we did want to capitalize on Magic Johnson’s desire to do more for AIDS,” Lager said. “It’s a drawing card. I think that Magic Johnson has really raised the consciousness of the average person.”

A large poster of Johnson that graced the display was accompanied by informational pamphlets and literature about AIDS. Five quilts made for Ventura County residents who died of AIDS were also shown. According to Lager, 174 people in Ventura County have died of AIDS.

Many people who signed the scroll just happened to be in the mall, but Pam Rose drove from Newbury Park expressly to send a message to Johnson. She simply wrote: “Our prayers are with you.”

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Her 21-year-old son died of AIDS six years ago, Rose said. “I’m not even a sports fan, but I love that smile of his.”


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