Compelling Personal Stories Inspire Dollar-for-Dollar Match & $1MM Gift for HIV/AIDS Organization.
Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS Partnership with The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation and the Phoenix Community Stronger than Ever
PHOENIX, AZ (May 14, 2014) – Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS raised more than $1.5 million* during its annual Night for Life Gala presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Richard P. Stahl in downtown Phoenix on May 10, 2014. The emotional and uplifting celebration, which was co-chaired by First Lady of Phoenix Nicole Stanton and Southwest Center Founder Kirk Baxter, was a way for guests to re:MEMBER, re:ACT and re:COMMIT to the fight against HIV and AIDS.
During the much-talked-about event, Bob and Renee Parsons announced that their Foundation would match, dollar-for-dollar, every donation made over the course of the program, which included a live auction and emotional appeal. The match inspired the 600 guests, many of whom were brought to tears, to dig deep and give generously.
Moved by the courage of seven HIV positive clients who revealed their status and story for the first time during the appeal, Bob and Renee Parsons pledged an additional one million dollars. Bob Parsons shared the significance of their personal commitment to the cause while on stage, emotionally reflecting on the loss of his cousins David and Dean to AIDS in the 1980s.
“The days David and Dean died the world skipped a beat,” said Bob Parsons. “They were beautiful people who passed all too quickly from a disease that was grossly misunderstood. Like me, many people are only one-degree of separation from someone who is impacted by this terrible disease. HIV and AIDS does not discriminate by race, gender, class or age group – anyone can contract it. And anyone who does needs to know that they should not be ashamed and we believe in their right to choose life. We need to stand together and break the stigmas that surround HIV and AIDS forever.”
“This is a cause that is incredibly close to our hearts,” added Renee Parsons. “And it is rewarding for Bob and me to be able to support the life changing work that Southwest Center is doing each and every day to bring hope for a cure to the HIV positive community.”
The prevalence of HIV in Arizona is on the rise. According to a study in 2012, nearly 17,000 people in Arizona were living with HIV. Of those individuals an estimated 18 percent were unaware of their infection.
To help raise critical awareness and dramatically expand the reach of its programs, Southwest Center launched The Parsons Center for Health and Wellness in 2013. The Center is the only facility in the Southwestern U.S. to combine prevention and education programs, health and wellness services, as well as research and clinical trials in a single location. Today, the Center will serve more than 30,000 at-risk and HIV positive individuals in Arizona.
“Bob and Renee Parsons have played a critical role in the growth of Southwest Center,” said Interim Executive Director Bruce Weiss. “Their commitment to our organization has helped us build an incredible facility and sustain our programs, and is helping us to improve our infrastructure and capacity. They are truly a ‘game changer.’ Mr. Parsons moved the house when he shared his personal story Saturday night and, by opening his heart, further gave life to why he is, and why we are, here.”
Southwest Center congratulates this year’s Night for Life Honorees:
Tom Simplot – 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award
Jack Black – 2014 Outstanding Achievement Award
John Musil – 2014 Community Champion Award
Mike Sparaco – 2014 Outstanding Philanthropist Award
Holly Street Studio Architects – 2014 Corporate Leadership Award
Hardison/Downey Construction, Inc. – 2014 Corporate Leadership Award
Sue Adams – 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award
*$430,000 was the gross amount raised prior to the match and $1 million gift.
To learn more about the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS visit, www.SWCENTER.org.