The Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB) gave away $148,000 to seven AIDS treatment and prevention groups in Colorado and Africa last week, marking an incredibly successful year for the benefit. 100% of funds raised during TAB’s week of events are being given directly to AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) in Colorado and Africa this year.
Every year in February, the Telluride community comes together in support of the Telluride AIDS Benefit for a spectacular fashion show and art auction. Local models strut their stuff to raise money that will go directly to HIV/AIDS patients and families. More than just a fashion show, it is 10 days of fun and educational events including a student fashion show and HIV/AIDS Education Day at the high school.
In addition to the money raised, 150+ members of the Telluride community donate about 5,000 hours of their time to make these events happen. “It is an awesome feat for our small community that so many people come together to support this cause”, said Executive Director, Michelle Maughan.
TAB funds go to four organizations in Colorado and three in Africa, with an average of 85% of funding staying in Colorado. TAB funds are uniquely important to beneficiaries as they are unencumbered by rules as to how they must be spent, unlike all federal funding.
Brother Jeff’s Community Health Initiative is based in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. They provide outreach services to African Americans at high risk for contracting HIV and client advocacy. “In the year to come, we plan to double our education and prevention efforts and spend a considerable amount of time with women and girls. Why? Because they are at risk and are largely left out of HIV efforts. TAB funding allows us to stay flexible and to work where we see gaps. We are so grateful for the continued support of the Telluride community,” says Brother Jeff, founder of Brother Jeff’s Community Health Initiative.
In Africa, Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection and Manzini Youth Care (MYC) helps marginalized youth there. This year during the Saturday night Gala Auction, $5,000 was raised specifically to help purchase a CD4 count machine for MYC. A CD4 count machine helps determine the stage of HIV infection and appropriate antiviral therapy. The entire country has been without this capability for some time — until now. “Since early 2012, Swaziland has had a chronic shortage in the ability to provide lab testing for CD4 counts. This year the Telluride AIDS Benefit provided the funding for this necessary piece of equipment. Beginning July 1, we will start testing CD4 values. We greatly appreciate the effort that TAB and the town of Telluride has made to help in the fight against AIDS/HIV, “ said Ed Hendrickson, founder of Manzini Youth Care.
Both Western Colorado AIDS Project (WestCAP) and the Western Colorado Specialty Care Clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital operate out of Grand Junction and provide care to HIV+ patients in 22 counties on the Western Slope, serving a population of over 40,000 square miles. “Last year, TAB funds were spent on direct client emergency financial assistance for housing, utilities, prescriptions, and medical bills, and expenses not covered by state and federal contracts. Over the last three decades, WestCAP has witnessed firsthand the evolving needs of those affected by HIV, to the point of preventing transmission and acquisition of HIV to see an end to AIDS in Colorado by 2030,” says Jeff Bassinger, Executive Director of WestCAP.
The Ethiopian Family Fund was the 2016 “featured beneficiary,” raising $29,000 in direct donations with founder Marla Hodes taking to the runway to share her passion. “These funds will be used to support the Bete-Deida Orphanage and a program called The Women's Project, helping HIV+ mothers become independent, start sustainable businesses which enable them to support their families,“ says Hodes.
TAB funds also support The Children’s Hospital Immunodeficiency Program (CHIP) in Aurora, CO and Generation Ubuntu in Khayletisha, South Africa. You can learn more about TAB beneficiaries and find many state and national resources for HIV/AIDS at aidsbenefit.org.
Additional funds go towards local educational initiatives and year-round FREE HIV TESTING at the Telluride Medical Center. Please contact the Telluride Medical Center today to set up a free HIV test at 970.728.3848.
“The Board of Directors and I are incredibly proud of this year's event and would like to thank the volunteers who make it all happen, and our compassionate, devoted community for continuing to help support the missions of these organizations,” says Executive Director, Michelle Maughan.
If you would like to bring free testing to your community, or HIV/AIDS Awareness Education to your school, please contact us. If you are interested in getting involved at any time during the year, please contact Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.