RED Brunch 2016

By Aitana Mallari, December 2016 Web Exclusive.

Walgreens presents the fifth annual RED Brunch, the signature fundraising gala of Aunt Rita’s Foundation, Dec. 10 at the Sheraton Downtown Phoenix Hotel.

Proceeds from the events will be equally distributed to the nonprofit’s 16 partner agencies that provide programs dedicated to prevent as well as assist those living with HIV/AIDS. Aunt Rita’s Foundation has granted more than $1.5 million to Central Arizona member agencies since 2005.

“RED Brunch is special for Aunt Rita’s and our community since it supports the broad education and awareness campaigns in which we engage annually to connect those living with HIV into support services, and about HIV testing and prevention,” states Glen Spencer, Aunt Rita’s Foundation executive director.

The event is a way to commemorate the more than 30 million individuals who have died from the disease since 1981 and also serves as a celebration of local heroes who will be recognized for their efforts in the community with the presentation of Aunt Rita's annual awards.

For this year’s event, Jeremy Schachter, who co-chaired the event in the past, is back with Katy June and Travis Shumake as fellow co-chairs.

Not only can all three comfortably sip mimosas on one bed (as seen in this year’s promo video), but they describe the RED Brunch as an opportunity entertain and inform.

RED Brunch 2016 co-chairs Travis Shumake (far left), Jeremy Schachter (second from last) and Katy June (center) on the red carpet with friends at last year's event.

“We are so excited for this year’s event, which ... will have an upgraded lunch menu, another fun lip-sync battle and other great surprises,” Schachter said. “… come as you are, bring friends, and have a great time while supporting a great organization and cause.”

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt panels, a project honoring the lives of those lost because of AIDS, will also be on display.

“I have many friends who are HIV positive,” June said, “and I appreciate the work that Aunt Rita’s Foundation does and have volunteered with them for years.”

Although awareness about HIV is higher than previous years, June said that “there is so much more to be done,” like spreading awareness about how to limit risky behaviors and taking advantage of the services provided by Aunt Rita’s partner agencies in the Valley.

“[I] am so excited to be a co-chair this year because it is a fun event … [to] and come together with friends and walk away with a greater understanding of Aunt Rita’s Foundation,” June added. “The information that they share about HIV/AIDS is always eye-opening and I walk away from the event feeling more hopeful and with a renewed sense of continuing my advocacy on this issue.”

In 2014, the most recent year available, there were 750 new cases of HIV in the state, 570 of which were in Maricopa County, according to John Sapero, office chief for HIV prevention at the Arizona Department for Health Services. Of those new cases, 38 percent were people between the ages of 13 and 29.

“I am personally excited about the opportunity to educate, build awareness with millennials and encourage them in getting involved in philanthropy early in life,” Shumake said. “… It is important to give back to the community financially and volunteer our time,” Shumake said. RED Brunch is fun and entertaining … it’s a pre-celebration of the holiday, Aunt Rita’s Foundation, its partner agencies and World AIDS Day. Come join us!”

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