The second time around proved to be successful for Nashville CARES fundraiser Bar AIDS, which posted strong numbers in both attendance and revenue last month.

The event, which took place at 13 different bars around Nashville, had a fundraising goal of $10,000. While all the proceeds haven’t been tallied as of press time, it looks as though the total will exceed that goal, said John Winnett, chief development and external affairs officer for Nashville CARES.

“We saw an increase in the total number of bars this year, as well as the number of people who turned out to support the event,” Winnett said. “Both figures are important, because we want to raise money for the work that we do, but we also want to introduce Nashville CARES to a new audience. With Bar AIDS, we’re able to explain the services we offer to people who may not have heard of us but will support our mission. It’s a fundraiser and a ‘friendraiser,’ all at the same time.”

Like Nashville CARES, the participating venues saw the event as a chance to reach out to new people. That was certainly the thinking at Fleet Street Pub in Printer’s Alley, which opened a year ago.

“We signed on because Nashville CARES is a good cause, so why wouldn't we support it?” said Glenn Henderson, co-owner. “And it was a good business decision too. The Bar AIDS event brought in a lot of people who hadn't been to Fleet Street Pub before, but now they know about us and have come in again.”

The mix of nightclubs involved was almost an even split in terms of their usual patron mix, with seven catering largely to the GLBT community and six known primarily for a heterosexual crowd. That’s very much the way the event was designed to play out, and that’s how it will be geared going forward, Winnett said.

“One of our goals is to prove that HIV is not a gay man’s disease any more, despite being perceived that way for decades,” he said. “With the balance we’ve struck for participating venues in Bar AIDS, we’re able to talk to the broadest audience possible about how HIV affects everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, social or economic status.”

Participating nightspots included: Stirrup Nashville, Fleet Street Pub, Nashville City Club - Riverview Grille, Lipstick Lounge, Trax, Blue Gene's, Tribe, Play, Canvas Lounge, No.308, BBQ Beach Bar & Grill, McFadden’s and Urban Grub.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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