Tuesday, October 22, 2013

12th Annual An Enduring Vision Benefit

On Tuesday night, Sir Elton John continued his humanitarian efforts to raise money for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and awareness programs across the United States, the Americas, and the Caribbean at the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF)’s 12th annual benefit An Enduring Vision held at Cipriani Wall Street (55 Wall Street).


American Airlines, Frank Guistra, Robert K. Kraft, and Wells Fargo served as the Presenting Sponsors of the benefit, and the star-studded evening raised over $3.45 million for the Foundation.

As part of the evening’s program, EJAF Founder Sir Elton John and Chairman David Furnish presented EJAF’s very first Founder’s Award to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Secretary Clinton’s ground-breaking speech in Geneva declaring that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights” and the bold plan for an AIDS-free generation she presented at the International AIDS Conference epitomize EJAF’s concept of “an enduring vision of a world without AIDS.”

John and Furnish also presented Enduring Vision awards to three outstanding Foundation supporters. Multiple Emmy Award-winning television host and magazine editor-in-chief Sandra Lee is a long-time supporter of EJAF and other HIV/AIDS and LGBT civil rights organizations, as well as serving as the national spokesperson for the No Kid Hungry campaign and a founding board member of UNICEF's Los Angeles chapter. Devoted EJAF supporter Ronald O. Perelman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, is a major philanthropist who has made numerous multi-million dollar gifts to health, education, civic, and arts organizations across the country. Founding EJAF Board member Howard Rose has generously assisted the Foundation in all areas of its work since its inception, from the initial and continued development of a variety of fund-raising events to building individual and corporate relationships.

NBC Today Show host Matt Lauer stepped in for CNN anchor Anderson Cooper to emcee the gala dinner. The previous evening Cooper had been sent to Washington, DC, to cover the debt ceiling crisis, and the Foundation was most grateful to Lauer for gallantly filling in at the last moment. The legendary band Heart performed. Also, guest auctioneer Jamie Niven conducted a live auction featuring such one-of-a-kind items as photographs by artists Matthew Pillsbury, Ed Ruscha, and Terry O’Neill; a private one-hour tennis lesson with Novak Djokovic; a four night vacation at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort; lunch with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper; tickets to Howard Pinter’s Betrayal on Broadway and a backstage meet-and-greet with star Daniel Craig; a five day vacation at Elton John and David Furnish’s Venice apartment, including an art tour with their Venetian guide, and dinner for two at Harry’s Bar and Harry’s Dolci; and a tour of Tamara Mellon’s office and showroom culminating in a head-to-toe look styled by Ms. Mellon.

During the program, Dr. Julio Frenk, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Max Essex, Mary Woodward Lasker Professor of Health Sciences and Chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative, and Deeda Blair and Maurice Tempelsman, Co-Chairs of the Harvard School of Public Health’s International AIDS Council presented the Harvard AIDS Institute’s Leadership Award to Sir Elton. This award is presented to individuals who have displayed outstanding vision, leadership, and courage in the worldwide struggle against AIDS.

“When I think of the extraordinary people who have received this honor before me, including my dear, dear friend Princess Diana, I am humbled to be counted among such august company. But I am also tremendously inspired by their courage, vision, generosity, dedication, and grace under fire," said Elton upon receiving the award. "What I hope to add to their legacy is my own special brand of pig-headed stubbornness. And I really hope that I will have your support – that all of you will join me in being equally stubborn when it comes to ending AIDS. Because that is what will be required to make our vision of a world without AIDS a reality.

Through the impeccable credibility and reputation attained based on more than 20 years of extensive work, EJAF has emerged as a significant leader in the field of AIDS. The Foundation advances public dialogue on critical and controversial issues related to the epidemic and challenges misguided policies and attitudes that block progress in HIV prevention. Proceeds from An Enduring Vision will help support these efforts, as well as EJAF’s grant-making initiatives across the U.S., the Caribbean, and the Americas.

- Look to the stars

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