Sonny’s Story


There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains.”

Sonny Petra’s first AIDS walk was in 2003. He was a junior at W.F. West High School and had recently joined the Key Club. ¬†One of their first projects that year was to help raise money and awareness for the people living with HIV/AIDS in Lewis County, and to participate in the AIDS walk.

On the day of the walk, Sonny was introduced to the people who work so hard organizing this event every year. He also had the opportunity to meet some of the people whom he was “walking” for, and it made a huge impact on him. He was so deeply touched by their stories and the courage of those people living with HIV/AIDS that he made a commitment to do all he could to help them.

From that year on, Sonny was involved with the planning and organizing of the annual AIDS walk. On the day of the AIDS walks, Sonny was always in front, holding his signs high and cheering people on. His enthusiasm was infectious. He also helped with the World AIDS day in December, a holiday event to celebrate life and acknowledge those lost to AIDS.

Sonny continued to be an advocate and stayed involved with the Lewis County AIDS Walk while living in Seattle and attending the University of Washington. In 2007 he moved to Bellingham to transfer to Western Washington University. While attending school, he volunteered at the Sean Humphrey House, cooking meals for the residents who were living with HIV/AIDS in the Bellingham community. Sonny was a shining light that brightened people’s lives.

Sonny Petra passed away on July 27, 2008.

“A Hike For Hope – The Sonny Project” is Sonny’s legacy. Backpacking was a family activity that Sonny enjoyed with his mother Rosie Breen, his brother Adam, grandfather and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

It seems appropriate for the 1st annual “Hike for Hope” to start in Yosemite and the trail that Sonny loved. Rosie will be doing a “thru-hike” of the 211 mile John Muir Trail which starts in Yosemite Valley (California) and ends on the summit of Mount Whitney (elevation 14, 497′). This hike is dedicated to Sonny and his commitment to help those in Lewis County living with HIV/AIDS.