The Artie Awards and theater community raised $20,000 for ECMC's HIV/AIDS and Immunodeficiency Services. WNED-WBFO were presenters of the 27th annual Artie Awards held June 5th. Artie Awards Founder and WBFO's Theater Talk co-host Anthony Chase presented the check to ECMC Monday. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says ECMC provides key HIV-AIDS services through its clinic.
"There is help and it's not a death sentence,” said Yolanda Sims. Sims is an HIV peer navigator and HIV patient at ECMC's clinic.
Sims discovered she had the disease 20 years ago. She told WBFO News as a patient and clinic employee she sees both sides of the disease.
“I do talk about it. I share with the patients I see. Sometimes I share my experience, when I need to,” Sims remarked.
Sims is able to maintain her health through medication. She said the goal is to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2020.
“It’s not scary – it’s not a death sentence. It feels good to know that with new medications, people are living longer lives – so it’s just positive – everything is positive,” Sims reflected.
“And we are very, very proud to make this presentation to the ECMC Foundation,” Chase stated.
The $20,000 check was handed to ECMC's President and CEO Tom Quatroche.
“We’re humbled that they choose us – ECMC as a place to give to, especially the theater community and the Western New York community has always stepped up to those in need,” Quatroche remarked.
Leaders of Buffalo's theaters lined up, explaining their support to the community in treating those with HIV and AIDS.
Shea’s Performing Arts Center President and CEO Michael Murphy noted for over 30-years theaters across the U.S. have been raising funding for AIDS and HIV.
"It has been a very important cause in the theater community and they have helped provide services, friendship, meals, care, research, clothing – all sorts of things that have been vital to those who have had HIV and AIDS," Murphy explained.
Joining Murphy was Musicalfare Theatre Executive Director Randall Kramer and Irish Classical Artistic Director Vincent O'Neill. Kramer is proud to support the fund-raising effort.
“I feel every day that we are very fortunate to present theater to the community in the way that it is supported by our audiences and it is even better when our audience supports something as important as this,” Kramer stated.
Irish Classical and O'Neill supported the Artie effort.
“The community supports us and sometimes we have an opportunity, like this, to support the community in return and for such a beautiful cause, it’s wonderful for all of us to be associated with it,” O’Neill said.
ECMC's clinic and services provided those with HIV and AIDS assistance in improving the quality of their lives, managing their care and helping to establish prevention.
Over the last 27 years, the Artie's has raised more than $500,000 for AIDS-related charities.