Red Ribbon Gala

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Gerry and Betsy Jackson are the co-chairs of tulsa cares’ 2018 Red Ribbon Gala. Photo by Charlie Rosenthal

Scheduled for March 3 at the Cox Business Center, the 21st annual Red Ribbon Gala will focus on redirecting perspectives about HIV/AIDS, organizers say.

The premier fundraising event focuses on “Shift” – what event co-chairs Betsy and Gerry Jackson encourage among Tulsa County’s population when it comes to perception, awareness and compassion.

Gerry Jackson says perspectives have already changed drastically since the Red Ribbon Gala’s inception in 1998.

“HIV/AIDS was not at the forefront of local philanthropy in the early to mid-’90s,” he says. “It took many dedicated volunteers and staff to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS and to educate the community about the realities and the need for compassion and support services.”

But the work is not complete.

“There is still a stigma attached, and we want people to change, or shift, their viewpoint,” Betsy Jackson says.

The black tie event features an interactive exhibit gallery, cocktails, dinner, a live auction and dancing. And, Betsy Jackson says, “the numbers of guests and donors seem to increase each year.”

The special evening is glitzy and entertaining, but the end game is to raise funds for the nonprofit, which helps to fund research and resources for people with HIV/AIDS and to transform social fears and misunderstandings into an educated empathy for those needing help.

Proceeds from the gala, which exceeded the $750,000 goal in 2017 by 14 percent, will provide practical services for people living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones. The goal for the 2018 gala is $1 million.

CEO Kate Neary says Tulsa CARES and its annual Red Ribbon Gala have played an important role in HIV/AIDS response over the past two decades.

“Tulsa CARES has provided a compassionate response to the HIV epidemic as HIV infection has evolved from a fatal illness to a chronically managed disease,” Neary says. “Within the framework of the HIV treatment cascade, we play a critical role in improving the lives of Oklahomans living with HIV/AIDS by offering a one-stop shop for social services.”

Some of those services include care coordination, mental health services, nutrition assistance, housing assistance, educational workshops and counseling for those living with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers.

Visit tulsacares.org to learn more about the programs, the Red Ribbon Gala and other ways you can help the cause.

Red Ribbon Gala

6 p.m. March 3
Cox Business Center, Tulsa
Benefits Tulsa CARES
For tickets, visit redribbongala.org

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