A night of fashion, visual art and music combine in a fundraiser to support HIV/AIDS organization Miracle of Love, Inc.

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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On November 8, Miracle of Love, an HIV/AIDS education and awareness organization based in Orlando, will stage its second Project Red: An Art Experience event at Parliament House on Orange Blossom Trail. The event will feature artists from around the area in theatre, visual art, fashion, music and other mediums. Proceeds from the event will go to fund Miracle of Love’s community endeavors, including programs for pregnant women, housing for HIV positive individuals, and care management assistance for underinsured or non-insured individuals with HIV/AIDS.

The first Project Red: An Art Experience took place in 2015, when an artist approached Miracle of Love with the idea to stage an art show that communicated to an audience what the color red meant to them.

Red ribbons have been the internationally recognized symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness since the founding of World AIDS Day in 1988 and the Red Ribbon International Organization in 1993.

As the project grew in scope during that first year, Miracle of Love decided to expand the event to include other artists in different mediums displaying their interpretation of the color red. “We wanted the event to be all-inclusive of all art mediums, since our organization is also all-inclusive regardless of age, sex, gender identity and race,” says Angus Bradshaw, executive director of Miracle of Love. “We decided to find out what red meant to anyone who considered themselves an artist.”

During that first event, which is now billed as Miracle of Love’s signature fundraising event, between 250 and 300 guests attended. After parking at the Parliament House, guests were shuttled over to Miracle of Love’s Stafford House.

The Stafford House is a safe space drop-in center for youth of alternative lifestyles. These vulnerable populations yearn for a space where they can meet and discuss relevant issues, as well as providing a fun space for activities like movie night, karaoke, kickball, game nights and more.

At the event, guests enjoyed art created and performed by entertainers and artists of every genre. There was art for sale that went to fund Miracle of Love’s future projects. This year, guests can expect much of the same in an expanded atmosphere. “We’ll have body painters, art shows, photography, impersonators and more,” says Bradshaw. Attendees can also expect singers and raffles to benefit the organization, including a hotel stay and wine-themed gift basket.

“We hope that those who attend Project Red will come away with an understanding of our services,” says Bradshaw. Miracle of Love was founded in 1991 and initially provided housing for individuals who were dying from AIDS progression.

Services expanded incrementally, including educational programs at correctional facilities, teaching inmates how to stay HIV negative, and how to manage their infection with medication if they are HIV positive.

Now, Miracle of Love provides medical care management for under- or non-insured individuals with HIV/AIDS, provides preventative programs for pregnant women, and provides housing for those who are HIV positive. “A lot of our clientele comes from word-of-mouth and from events such as Project Red. We want to be visible in the community,” says Bradshaw.

Other Miracle of Love events include the Orlando Pub Prance in June, the Divas in Red party and a two-day bicycle ride called the SMART Ride from Miami to Key West. Coming up at Thanksgiving, Miracle of Love will provide more than 250 complete Thanksgiving dinners to HIV positive clients in the Orlando area.

According to AIDSVu.org, in 2015 there were more than 11,000 individuals in the Orlando area living with HIV: 73 percent of those were men, and 27 percent were women. A significant portion of the HIV-positive populations are black and Hispanic. Almost 2,000 Floridians diagnosed HIV positive died in 2015; of those, 171 lived in Orlando. And nearly three-quarters of the HIV transmissions in men were due to unsafe sex, underscoring the need for HIV/AIDS prevention services in Central Florida.

Because of the location of Miracle of Love’s offices and the Stafford House, the organization serves mainly people of color and other minority populations, but the services are not limited to minorities.

The event will be hosted and emceed by Parliament House staple Gidget Galore. Other performers include Miss Continental 2016 Jazell Barbie Royale, Danielle Hunter, on-air personality and burlesque performer Blue Star, Angelica Sanchez, and Aysia Black.

“We want people to leave this event feeling more comfortable talking about HIV/AIDS in the community,” says Bradshaw. He says that a good way to get people talking is to lift the discomfort from the topic. He hopes that through this unconventional setting, the conversations will start about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. “Putting an end to this epidemic is the ultimate goal,” he says.

Tickets for the event can be purchased at this link. Project Red: An Art Experience will begin at 7 p.m. and continue until 10 p.m. General admission tickets start a $10, but sponsor tickets are available for up to $500.

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