Hundreds of people filled the grounds at the O’Donnell Golf Course for the 23rd Annual Evening Under the Stars Gala on April 30th. The reception area was filled with everyone dressed to the nines. Drink stations were everywhere so there were no long lines waiting for refreshments. The Gala is a fundraiser for AIDS Assistance Program, AAP. The event is also a way to reward special people with humanitarian awards. The evening’s entertainment was by The Village People group.
Honorees this year was Senator Barbara Boxer with the Jeanette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award who said she was retiring from the Senate at the end of this year but was still going to be a fighter for HIV/AIDS. Terri Ketover was given the Gloria Greene Inspiritation Award and said she wanted to acknowledge her husband Bart as the biggest supporter in all that she does. Cathy MacNaughton received the Herb Lazenby Community Service Award and was thrilled with the award. Emcee Lily Tomlin was smiling and proud when she gave her partner Jane Wagner the Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award. AAP gave an inaugural award this year to Walgreens as a Corporate Angel Award for their years of support in the HIV/AIDS struggle.
Guests were urged to bring their cell phones to the stage to welcome The Village People by taking photos and videos of the performance. As soon as the Village People came on stage, the dance floor was filled with guests taking photos, moving with the music and some were trying to dance at the back of the dance floor. The Village People really know how to get the crowd on their feet to enjoy the fun. They are a nationally well-known group with hits like “Macho Man” and “YMCA” and are credited with bringing gay culture into the forefront.
AAP not only helps people with HIV/AIDS but others with health issues, and most are low-income people. AAP has a variety of programs but mainly provides food so no one will go hungry. CEO Mark Anton said that most of the clients rarely leave the program. There is always a waiting list of people in need and money is needed to help everyone. AAP survives on private donations, special events and local support. They get no state or federal funds. Each client gets a $100 dollar voucher monthly for food and necessities and must pass income and residency guidelines, and some are tested regularly for illegal drugs.