Pictured Staff, clients and supporters at the TPAN benefit. TPAN gala photos by Amy Wooten.
More than 500 people turned out to celebrate and give support at the Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) Aware Affair Gala 2005 Saturday, Sept. 10.
TPAN is the oldest peer-led HIV service provider in Chicago. A year after the passing of former executive director Charles Clifton, the agency has gone through what current Executive Director Rick Bejlovec described as a 'turbulent,' yet transitional year.
With each table labeled a different aspect of HIV in society and in individuals' lives—i.e. politics, fear, advocacy—the theme of the evening was the power of words.
'Our goal is to celebrate,' said Bejlovec. 'It's also to fund for TPAN services and … to increase our awareness about HIV.'
The event was hosted by NBC 5 meteorologist Tammie Souza, who dubbed the event a 'hurricane of hope.'
'I see a very powerful storm … a lot of energy here,' she said.
TPAN from cover
The evening began with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction. After dinner and awards, singer Jane Olivor performed.
Kevin Putz received the Chris Clason Committed to Living Award. Putz's graphic design firm, Toolbox Inc., has created many pro bono invitations and social marketing campaigns, including TPAN's HIV Awareness and crystal meth campaigns.
Although Putz became involved in HIV efforts long ago, he said that after he became diagnosed with the disease, 'There was no question that I'd remain dedicated to as many AIDS service organizations that needed my help.'
Putz urged people to participate in activism in addition to charitable giving and volunteering. 'I want you to remain active in making yourself heard by the drug companies and your government alike.'
The TPAN Visionary Award went to Gay Chicago magazine for its response to the needs of the community, its strong support of many organizations, and its current work running free public service campaigns that promote crystal meth awareness and safer sex. '… I should be standing up and giving [ TPAN ] an award,' said founder Ralph Paul Gernhardt. He commended his staff for their help over the past 30 years in bringing a strong code of ethics to the publication.
Amy Maggio received the Charles E. Clifton Leadership Award at the gala for her 20-plus years of HIV/AIDS leadership. Maggio is a current TPAN board member. She has also been involved with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, STOP AIDS, the National Leadership Coalition on AIDS, and the AIDS/HIV Prevention and Planning Council for Chicago.
'A plague in my own lifetime—who would have believed it?,' Maggio asked. 'It's here and it's there and it's everywhere.'
Maggio went through the more than 20-year history of the epidemic, touching on current issues. 'If you haven't taken action before, stand up and be counted,' Maggio urged. 'But remember that an epidemic and a virus is also a personal one. It is about loss, but it is about not saying goodbye.'