AIDS Foundation Chicago (AFC) marked 35 years with a virtual "Gala35" celebration and awards ceremony Nov. 19.
Among the honorees were Newsweb Corporation Chairperson, Alphawood Foundation President and social-justice activist Fred Eychaner (Civic Leadership Award); ViiV Healthcare Regional Medical Director and HIV advocate Dr. Toyin Falusi (Community Impact Award); AFC Board Director and volunteer and restaurant owner Martin Cournane (Lori Kaufman Volunteer Award); and Walgreens (Corporate Leadership Award).
Pride Action Tank Executive Director and AFC Policy and Advocacy Operations Senior Director Kim Hunt hosted the event.
Speakers included Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Robin Kelly, state Rep. and Majority Leader Greg Harris, state Rep. Lamont Robinson Jr., Ald. Tom Tunney, AFC President and CEO John Peller, AFC Board Chair Craig Johnson, AFC Corporate and Foundation Relations Director Erwin Sanez, former AFC Executive Director Karen Fishman, former AFC President and CEO Mark Ishaug, former AFC President and CEO David Ernesto Munar, AFC's Policy and Advocacy team and others.
Celebrities taking part included singer/actress Vanessa Williams, Amy Landecker, Alexandra Billings and Chef Blaque (from Netflix's Sugar Rush).
Hunt spoke about the work AFC has done over the years including how the organization has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic this past year and the ongoing Getting to Zero campaign.
Peller remembered all the lives lost to COVID-19 and the police brutality and racism that persist across the United States.
Kaufman presented Cournane with his award while Tucker gave Falusi her award. Walgreens President John Stanley accepted the company's award from Sanez while Tunney gave Eychaner his award.
"All funds raised by Gala35 will support AFC's mission creating justice and equity for people living with and vulnerable to HIV and related chronic conditions and support initiatives outlined in the Getting to Zero Illinois plan, a collaborate statewide initiative to end new HIV transmissions in HIV by 2030," said Peller in a statement to Windy City Times.
See aidschicago.org/ and gtzillinois.hiv/ .