INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds gathered Saturday night to celebrate the Damien Center’s fight against HIV and AIDS. The nonprofit’s 32nd grand masquerade took place in downtown Indianapolis.
The Damien Center went all out this year to bring a little bit of Italy to Indianapolis. The theme this year was Carnavale in Arancione.
Many faces hid behind masks at the grand masquerade, but there was no hiding why people showed up in droves.
“Sometimes, because we’ve made so many strides in HIV care it gets kind of forgotten in this country,” said Kazoa Parsons, masquerade guest. “But especially in this city and around the country there are are really high new reinfection rates and infection rates, and I think it’s something that we still need to bring to the forefront.”
Some guests used the occasion to not only bring some festivity to the party, but also bring awareness about HIV and AIDS.
“When I was walking around in this outfit, I was like, ‘Damien Center Masquerade.’ When I went to get my hair done, I was like ‘Damien Center Masquerade’ so I just told everyone what I was doing today, and surprisingly people didn’t know about it,” guest Stephanie Reynolds said about her decorative dress.
The entire party costs about $90,000 to throw, but with community support and donated items for the silent auction, Damien Center ends up raising $300,000 in just this one night. They use the money to provide care and prevention of HIV and AIDS for another year.
“That money that we’re raising tonight, if you think about it, $1,500 can help a person for a year be on Prep — a medication that helps people prevent HIV,” said Stephen McCoy, chief donor relations officer for the Damien Center.
“A thousand dollars can help a person with care coordination and that’s helping them get on insurance and getting the services they need in the community and also at the Damien Center. So if you multiply all that, you can see how many people we can serve then, and it allows us to serve even more — this event — the better that we do,” McCoy said.
If you’d like to donate but couldn’t make it to the masquerade, you can learn more here.