WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 17-23, 2011)


AIDS Walk L.A. unites, inspires, raises $3 million; More than 30,000 people join AIDS Walk Los Angeles on its West Hollywood route. The fundraising event supports services for people with the disease.” By Hailey Branson-Potts. Los Angeles Times. October 16, 2011. Lynnea Lawson and her friend Mimi Hill, both 26, met two decades ago at a camp for children with HIV and AIDS. They have remained friends ever since. On Sunday, they were among more than 30,000 people who participated in the 27th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles. The event raises money for AIDS Project Los Angeles and related service organizations. This year’s event raised more than $3 million. Hill — a longtime participant who, like Lawson, was born with HIV — wore a hand-painted white T-shirt with “AIDS Walk 2011 — We’ve got to keep fighting” in big black letters. The crowd at AIDS Walk always inspires her, Hill said. She walks for the people whose names appear on the back of her shirt. They are friends who died of AIDS. She calls them her soldiers and says she’s still fighting the war against AIDS. Someday, she and Lawson said, it will be won. “People don’t say ‘cure’ much; they say ‘treatment,’” Lawson said. “But I believe we can do it.” This year marks 30 years since the AIDS virus was reported in five young gay men in Los Angeles. Over the years, more than 32,000 people have died of the disease in the county, according to health officials. Another 63,000 area residents live with HIV or AIDS.

Dialing for Radio Dollars.” By Ralph Gardner, Jr. Wall Street Journal. October 17, 2011. I’m not sure what’s more remarkable—that there even exists a bobblehead of Alan Chartock, the head of Northeast public radio, the Hudson Valley’s NPR affiliate, or that it enjoys pride of place on the ledge overlooking our stove. It’s right next to the salt and pepper shakers, the clay animals one of our daughters created when she was 4, and the figurine of Michelangelo’s David that I painted yellow to match the kitchen décor; I apparently had a lot of time on my hands at some point. I mean, how many presidents of public radio stations can you name, let alone who have dolls cast in their honor? But if you live or weekend upstate—though Alan claims the station’s transmitter, located on the top of Mount Greylock in western Massachusetts reaches parts of six states, edging as far south as Westchester County—and you’re of the public-radio persuasion, WAMC and Mr. Chartock are probably as integral to your existence as the propane that runs your oven, the electricity that gives you light (when the power’s not off) and the gently rolling hills and Hudson Valley vistas that drove you here in the first place. The cult of Alan, who is 70 years old, reaches its zenith during its three-times-a-year $1 million fund drives, of which the fall drive is currently in progress. It’s a testament to the man, and to the station, that listeners actually tune in rather than reach for the dial. Why they would subject themselves to such punishment is a logical question. I suspect it’s not altogether dissimilar to gathering with your extended family for the holidays. You’re not really excited at the prospect, but you draw perverse comfort from the ritual—that people tell the same old stories, that Uncle Jimmy still eats with his mouth wide open. “The most important thing is a sense of community—we’re all in this together,” explained Alan (as he’s simply known on the airwaves, in the same way that Cher is Cher and Madonna Madonna.) “We read every single name of everybody who gives money, unless they ask us to say ‘Anonymous.’” That’s part, but not the entire secret to each drive’s success. The average public radio solicitation is about as much fun as watching paint dry; Alan turns the exercise into performance art.

Painting the Town Pink to Raise Millions.” By Marshall Heyman. Wall Street Journal. October 18, 2011. The ninth annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, which took place this weekend in New York, was big business. The trek itself—39.3 miles, involving a sleepover in pink tents on Roosevelt Island with many of the 3,500 participants—raised $8.4 million. In turn, the Avon Foundation awarded $9.1 million in grants at the closing ceremony at Hudson River Park’s Pier 84 to 10 organizations, among them God’s Love We Deliver, CancerCare and the New York University Cancer Institute. For such big business, you need a big celebrity. And since, perhaps, Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler weren’t available—they starred as mismatched identical twins in the ’80s film “Big Business,” and yes that’s a bad joke—Reese Witherspoon did the honors instead. Ms. Witherspoon is a global ambassador for Avon, in case you were wondering. Before the actual closing ceremony, Ms. Witherspoon gathered with more than 100 advocates, NGO leaders, health policy experts, physicians and scientists from more than 55 countries for a luncheon to celebrate the 2011 Avon Global Breast Cancer Congress. The actress was there to announce the Avon Global Scholars program, the goal of which is to bring clinician scholars to various Avon Foundation-funded breast cancer centers in the U.S. for a month of intensive training. There was a lot of pink at this luncheon, pink being the color that represents the fight against breast cancer. Pink scarves, pink shirts, pink Ed Hardy tees, pink ribbons, pink on pink. “Brace yourself,” said Ms. Witherspoon, before she walked into the meeting room in her pink-accented sneakers. She was talking about the pink denim jacket she would be sporting during the walk. It’s available for sale with proceeds benefiting Avon’s initiatives. “It does create a lot of money.”

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