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Fundraiser to help AIDS patients, orphans

WORLD AIDS Candlelight Memorial is held on the third Sunday in May every year, and this year Kathleen's 5 Rooftop Restaurant holds a gala fundraiser and auction to help AIDS patients, orphans and to raise awareness. Sam Riley reports.

After the world marks AIDS Day on December 1, many red ribbons disappear and many people forget. Not so at Kathleen's 5 Rooftop Restaurant where a gala dinner fundraiser and auction are planned on May 16.

The event and celebration party afterward aim to increase awareness of HIV/AIDS, its transmission and treatment and to change attitudes toward patients who are often stigmatized.

Celebrities, business and community leaders will attend. The theme is "Chinese Theater."

Kathleen's 5 event will mark International Aids Candlelight Memorial Day which falls on May 17 this year. The day is marked around the world and is one of the oldest grassroots campaigns to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.

Started in 1983, the Candlelight Memorial takes place on the third Sunday in May and involves 1,200 community organizations in 115 countries hosting local memorials that honor those lost to the disease and aiming to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Kathleen's 5 AIDS Awareness Charity is now in its fourth year and the restaurant's general manager, Franck Crouvezier, says they are expecting to raise more than 200,000 yuan (US$29,292) for three AIDS charities.

The charities support and treat local patients, orphans in central China and also provide education on HIV/AIDS.

Whatever their budget, people will be able to support AIDS charities in different ways, says Crouvezier.

"Regardless if people have a little money or a lot of money, they can all participate and show their support," he says.

From May 1 until May 16, raffle tickets will be sold at the Kathleen's 5 and Shanghai Studio Bar and Gallery on Huaihai Road M. and Bioscor Shanghai Clinic on Xingguo Road.

A book of 10 tickets costs 200 yuan.

The raffle will be drawn at midnight on May 16.

There will also be a celebration party on May 16 from 10pm until late. More than 500 guests are expected. Tickets will cost 120 yuan per person.

Crouvezier says more than 140 people were expected to attend the gala dinner, with tickets costing 800-10,000 yuan. There will be a live auction, Porsche motor show and entertainment.

The dinner theme this year is "Chinese Theater," and Chinese and Western opera singers will perform, as will dancers from Jazz Du Funk.

Since it started, the charity fundraiser has raised more than 600,000 yuan and it gets bigger every year.

Almost everything is donated - food, beverages, prizes, auction items - so there's little overhead and most of the money raised goes directly to the charities, Crouvezier says.

He says 92 international and Chinese companies have supported the fundraiser, donating to the auction contemporary artworks, hotel stays and a cosmetic surgery package worth 10,000 yuan. The value of donations ranges from a 500-yuan voucher to a 40,000-yuan prize.

"This is about a community effort," says Crouvezier.

This year some of the funds raised will go to the Shanghai Red Cross that gives funds to the Shanghai Municipal Hospital for Infectious Diseases to help local AIDS patients.

Funds will also go to the Chi Heng Foundation that works with children and orphans in central China affected by AIDS.

The foundation operates in the village level, identifying children in need and ensuring that no child is excluded and that each child's needs are understood.

The foundation's primary focus is to pay for the children's education and living expenses.

More than 80 percent of the funds raised will benefit these two charities. Proceeds from the auction of a donated artwork will go to a public HIV/AIDS education program run by the United Nations Development Program.

Over the past four years the fundraiser has been conducted, Crouvezier has seen improved understanding of HIV/AIDS and related issues.

World AIDS Day is December 1, but after that the red ribbons disappear "and this event is a way of raising the issue again," he says. "While attitudes have improved a lot as understanding grows, there is always more work to be done."

Tickets for the gala dinner and celebration party are still available.

Crouvezier says business and community leaders and celebrities were expected to attend.

Guests in past years have included modern dancer Jin Xing, MC Ray Cheng, James Chaw and TV personality A Nan and Gong Lu.

Kathleen's 5

Address: 5/F, 325 Nanjing Rd W.

Tel: 6327-2221

Check for more information.


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