RED Brunch

By Desi Rubio, December 2015 Issue.

Each year, on the first day of December, people around the world gather in prayer, unite at vigils to pay respect to those living with HIV/AIDS and to commemorate the 30 million individuals who have died from the disease since 1981.

To honor World AIDS Day here in the Valley, Aunt Rita’s Foundation will host its annual RED Brunch Dec. 5 at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.

As the organization’s signature event, RED Brunch is not only a morning of remembrance but also a chance to recognize community members who are working to make a difference.

“This is an event where the community comes together after World AIDS Day to remember those we have lost and celebrate all the good work all the agencies have done in the community,” said Kit Kloeckl, Aunt Rita’s executive director.

According to event coordinators, nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend and guests are encouraged to incorporate something red in their attire.

While taking careful measures to guard the event’s elements of surprise, coordinators collectively offered one sentiment: This year’s RED Brunch will be unlike any other event Phoenix has to offer.

“We believe that we are all tired of the same format of everyone getting up and giving speeches,” Kloeckl explained. “We wanted to change it up but we are keeping it a surprise.”

Still, some key elements will remain the same as years past. For example, CBS 5’s Donna Rossi will be returning as this year’s host. And other friends and allies of the LGBT community, including Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and his wife, Nicole Stanton, will be in attendance.

For returning guests, Kloeckl said, the event’s most popular components will also be returning.

As part of the NAMES Memorial Quilt Project, a variety of quilt panels will be on display at RED Brunch, including those of Randy Schrock, co-founder of the original Aunt Rita’s Foundation.

“The quilt is very emotional and the majority of the panels have been requested by individuals to bring in,” Kloeckl said, adding that the local tie is a significant part of both local history and the national scope.

Additionally, the event’s silent auction component will give attendees the opportunity to bid on donated items ranging from holiday wreaths and decorations to vacation packages.

Also as part of the event, Aunt Rita’s will present Heart Awards to three individuals who have continued to assist people with HIV/AIDS or have brought awareness to the community. Nominations were made by each agency in a 350-word essay that explained why this person deserves this award. All nominees were reviewed and voted on by Aunt Rita’s board members, and the three winners will be announced at RED Brunch.

“[This] gives us the opportunity to recognize people every year,” Kloeckl said. “The winners are awarded with a beautiful engraved crystal vase.”

Throughout the year, Aunt Rita’s hosts multiple fundraising efforts, including AIDS Walk Arizona & 5K Run and Viva Aunt Rita’s, the proceeds from which will be equally distributed to the organization’s 17 benefitting agencies as part of RED Brunch. Last year, Aunt Rita’s distributed $170,000 to the local agencies.

Some of the greatest differences being made in the lives of the nearly 15,000 individuals living with HIV/AIDS, according to Kloeckl, are because of these agencies, which continued to provide such services as medical care, food and housing. And proceeds from RED Brunch’s silent auction and tickets sales will further support these efforts.

RED Brunch tickets are $100 per guest (all ages welcome) and, according to Kloeckl, include brunch prepared by a local chef, access to specialty cocktails, a silent auction, and, most importantly, the opportunity to learn more about this global pandemic.

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