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A turn in the national spotlight may have been new for her two attorneys, but for Stephanie Ray, it has become as commonplace as a day of Arizona sunshine. She has made public service announcements; met Hillary Rodham Clinton and read some of her poetry with her; met Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York; and still is asked to appear before and speak to various groups. Ray also has made many national and local appearances focusing on AIDS education, including an appearance in a Disney documentary about children and their life with the disease. A search of her name on the Internet yields hundreds of search results. She is a girl whose life has been transformed by AIDS — but don’t make the mistake of defining her by it. “Stephanie is living with AIDS, not dying from AIDS,” says her aunt, Cathy Stelter. And that’s a message Stephanie has tried to send to many others with AIDS: Think positive; stay negative. Defying the odds, Stephanie continues to live a healthy life. Today, Stephanie Ray happily toils in eighth grade and throws herself headlong into all sports, except golf and tennis, she says. Attorney Jennifer Shick cannot speak highly enough of her young client and of her family: “[Stephanie] has had this life that is so horrid in a lot of ways, … but from a very young age she has [had] this maturity … that is well before her years. … She’s funny, she’s bright, she’s got a great sense of humor — she’s a miracle.” Shick adds, “It’s just this great, great family, and Stephanie has everything when she’s with them.” The family speaks highly of the lawyers who fell into their lives one August day, especially of the woman who ate pizza and talked law with them: “She’s a part of the family now,” Cathy Stelter says of Jennifer Shick. “[She] is just a passionate woman. I think when she gets a cause that she wants to fight for, I don’t think I’d be on the track when the train came through.” This story was first published in the January 2001 issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, and was republished by permission.

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