Elton John Raises $2 Million at Annual AIDS Benefit; Remembers Ryan White
Sir Elton John remembered AIDS sufferer Ryan White on the red carpet of his annual AIDS foundation benefit on October 15. He called the teenager’s death a major turning point in his own life, which John described as “out of whack” at the time. Ryan White, a hemophiliac, contracted AIDS in 1984 because of a blood transfusion and was expelled from middle school. Elton John was with the boy and his family when White died in 1990. After White’s death, Elton John decided to become sober and, within the next two years of achieving sobriety, started the foundation.
John said that while “great strides” are being made in research and behavior, there is still a long way to go. “The stigma involved in people coming out and saying they’re HIV-positive is still an underground thing; it’s still a shame-based thing until we can get everybody tested and people to come out and be role models to people who have HIV, then we’re still battling against this disease,” stated John.
In 1992, John established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which continues its global humanitarian efforts to raise money for a variety of services, including campaigns to end the stigma and discrimination, prevention programs, and treatment, care, and support services for people with HIV/AIDS. The foundation presented Enduring Vision awards to Diana Jenkins, the chairman, CEO, and founder of the beverage company Neuro; New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft; and Joseph Blount, an ardent benefactor to the foundation since its beginning.
Celebrities at the benefit included Stevie Nicks, who performed; Brooke Shields; Lance Bass; Courtney Love; and Alan Cumming. The Elton John AIDS Foundation raised $2 million at the October 15 event.
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