By Michael Weinstein, AHF President —
AHF World AIDS Day (WAD) 2016 is one for the AHF history books. Amazing teams across the globe mobilized for WAD in a way that only AHF can do. More than 40,000 cheered in Mexico City; a huge concert event took place in Cambodia and countless activities happened across the continents.
For the very first time AHF held a major WAD event in Los Angeles where AHF was founded thirty years ago. It was nothing short of magnificent. It started with an overflowing line of march on a side street off of famed Hollywood Blvd. And, as we turned on to the boulevard 1500+ strong we were joined by international celebrities such as Common, Jojo and Rosie Perez. The energy was palpable. Every segment of the AHF community of Los Angeles was represented from Out of the Closet, Sunset, Public Health, Positive Healthcare, Pharmacy, Worldwide, our patients, partner organizations and community supporters.
We marched to the iconic Dolby Theatre, the home of the Academy Awards, where we poured into the venue. What followed was more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined. Not only did we rock the house with great performances; had throngs of cameras and reporters; uplifted people at a time when they desperately needed it; but we waved the AHF flag high for everyone to see who we truly are.
The event organization was a strong team effort across multiple departments. However, the magic sauce for the march came from Terri Ford and the global policy team who turned out the people in force and made it look like a million dollars and Ged and his communications team scored all of the press.
The concert was the expression of the creative genius of the AHF marketing team under the direction of Samantha Granberry. I know of no more tireless dedicated people across all of AHF who work harder and produces more than they. And, they do it over and over again almost without a breath in between. I can come up with plenty of big ideas but it wouldn’t mean much if we didn’t have them to bring it to fruition – it is humbling.
Most importantly no one the world over who was touched by ALL of our magnificent activities could forget that 35 million people have died of AIDS; that 36.7 million people are living with the disease and that the majority of them are still not being treated. What an outstanding way to head into the holiday season.