By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund will host the 25th anniversary of its annual fundraising gala, Red Tie Night on Saturday, March 4 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, 700 NE 63rd Street, in Oklahoma City.
The gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a silent auction and cocktails, followed by dinner at 8 p.m., a live auction at 9 p.m. and dancing from 10 p.m. – midnight. Complimentary valet parking will be available. Attire is formal red/black tie.
This year’s event co-chairs are Molly Ross and Sean Olmstead.
“I’ve been involved in Red Tie for about 10 years now…it’s very rewarding… and I’m very honored to be asked to co-chair this year,” Olmstead said.
The event is honoring OACF’s founder, Barbara Cooper, for her leadership, stewardship, and commitment to helping those affected by HIV/AIDS in Oklahoma.
Ms. Cooper has been a tireless advocate for the HIV/AIDS issue. After her son passed away, she and her late husband, Jackie Cooper, made it their life’s mission to raise awareness and funding to help Oklahomans affected by HIV/AIDS and to prevent new infections.
By establishing and growing Red Tie Night into one of OKC’s largest single evening event fundraisers, they’ve helped to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease, brought other families dealing with loss and grief together, and raised over $14 Million dedicated specifically for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and services.
“We’re going to shake things up,” said Ross. “Our theme is ‘Juxtaposition,’ which means bringing in the old, but also bringing in some new.”
The gala theme contrasts the traditional elements of Red Tie Night with new modern components. New Leaf Florists & Mood Party Rentals along with PDC Productions will transform the event space by adding new details reminiscent of the memorable event for which Red Tie Night is known.
Dave & the Wavetones will provide the dinner entertainment and return to perform after the live auction. KOCO News 5 anchors, Paul Folger and Jessica Schambach will serve as emcees. The Petroleum Club will cater the event.
Red Tie Night 2017 will offer guests the chance to bid on items such as a Mini Cooper, a meet and greet opportunity with New Kids on the Block, attend the UEFA Champions League Soccer Finals in Wales, attend a Formula 1 race like a VIP, or own one of the famed Bunny Portraits by NYC artist, Hunt Slonem.
“There is very little funding available for HIV/AIDS”, said Cher Golding, Executive Director of the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund. “The need is greater than the available resources. The funding from Red Tie Night, allows the organizations that OACF supports to focus on their mission and direct services for their clients without having to worry about how they will cover program, operational and administrative expenses.
“There are 350 new infections identified in Oklahoma each year – that’s almost one per day,” Golding added. “Although being diagnosed with HIV is not the death sentence it once was, it’s still a public health crisis as new infections are on the rise. Through OACF’s education and prevention efforts along with a newly formed Advocacy program, we are working with educators, elected officials and health professionals to reduce the rate of new infections.”
This year’s planning committee includes Mark Beutler, Amanda Bleakley, Dave Blew, Michael Bolan, Melanie Burns, Kristin Homsey Carson, Betsy Colton, Cindy Colton, Graham Colton, Adam Edwards, Justin Edwards, Cher Golding, Coby Greenhaw, Jason Grife, Victor Harris, Brent Hart, Kyle Hayles, Elizabeth Hoehn, Joe Holcomb, Wendy House, Megan Johnson, Kate Kirk, Seth Lewis, Paula Love, Joey Magana, Undrell Malhomes, Kelli Masters, Jennifer McCaren, Michi Medley, Lany Milner, Travis Morelock, Whitney Moss, Kindt Myers, Linda Neira, Valery Oswald, Jaime Payne, Heidi Ramdo Centrella, Frederick Redwine, Joe Roberts, Heather Showalter, Nick Solis, Robin Stone, Everette Surratt, Matt Thomas, Stacey Voegeli, and Barry Wichert.
Sponsors include the Inasmuch Foundation, the Chickasaw Nation, Jackie Cooper Enterprises, Mr. and Mrs. Gary and Sharon Roth, Mr. Josh Brim, IBC Bank, and WSB Resources.
“We’ve come a long way in the last 25 years and we hope one day to report that there were no new infections, but until then we need events like Red Tie Night and organizations like the Oklahoma AIDS Care Fund,” Golding stated.
Individual tickets are $350 and table sponsorships range from $4,000-$10,000.
To purchase a table or tickets to Red Tie Night, call 405-348-6600 or visit www.redtienight.com.