On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) raised more than $3.15 million at its 15th annual An Enduring Vision benefit gala to support HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, supporting services, and advocacy programs across the United States, the Americas, and the Caribbean.
American Airlines, BVLGARI, Fiore Group, Robert K. Kraft, The Lauder Foundation – Leonard & Judy Lauder Fund, Sands Bethlehem, and Steve Tisch served as the Presenting Sponsors of the benefit.
The star-studded evening was held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.
As part of the evening’s program, EJAF Founder Elton John and Chairman David Furnish presented Enduring Vision awards to two outstanding Foundation supporters – Frank Giustra and Steve Tisch. As a renowned businessman, entrepreneur, and international philanthropist, Frank Giustra has donated millions of dollars to address global poverty, disaster relief, conflict prevention and resolution, health and economic development, and homelessness. Chairman and Executive Vice President of the New York Giants, Academy Award-winning film producer, and philanthropist Steve Tisch has devoted his time and resources to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic and to significant arts and education programs.
EJAF also presented its second Founder’s Award, which celebrates extraordinary contributions to the global effort to end AIDS, to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon championed the launch of the Free & Equal Campaign, an international public education campaign to promote equality and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. He continues to be a vocal supporter for LGBT equality and HIV/AIDS advocacy, declaring LGBT rights as one of the great neglected human rights issues of our time.
Award-winning producer and popular talk show host Andy Cohen emceed the evening. Grammy-winning singer/pianist Diana Krall took the stage for a mesmerizing performance of jazz standards and original songs. Jeffrey Tambor, the Emmy Award-winning star of the Amazon hit series Transparent, spoke movingly about the importance of advocating for and helping transgender people. Also, throughout the evening, three representatives from organizations funded by EJAF spoke about the impact Foundation funding has had on their lives and work, including Kathie Hiers, CEO of AIDS Alabama, Bamby Salcedo, founder of the Translatin@ Coalition, and Noel Bucknor, a young gay, HIV-positive volunteer worker for Jamaica AIDS Support for Life who turned to EJAF grantee Rainbow Railroad for assistance when he realized his life was in danger and he needed to flee Jamaica to safety in the United States.
Guest auctioneer Alexander Gilkes conducted a live auction featuring such one-of-a-kind items including an iconic BVLGARI MVSA Necklace in pink gold adorned with precious gemstones presented by Supermodel Jasmine Sanders, lunch with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen, and art work by Bernie Taupin (Sleeping Beauty), Jose Davila (Untitled Ohhh…Alright…) and Robert Mapplethorpe (Orchid).
“To truly end AIDS, we must provide more funding for syringe access, more funding for community organizing, more funding to change hearts and minds, and more funding to change unjust laws and policies,” said Elton. “That’s a tall order, but with your help, we can do it, and we MUST succeed if we want to see the end of AIDS in our lifetime.”
Through the impeccable credibility and reputation attained based on nearly a quarter century 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.