Hope & Help ditches the headdress for its annual gala

By : Melanie Ararat
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ABOVE: Hope & Help’s Headdress Ball from 2017. Photo by J.D. Casto

ORLANDO | After 28 years as the Headdress Ball, Hope & Help has changed the name of its signature event to the Hope & Help Gala.

The 29th annual HIV/AIDS fundraiser will be at the Rosen Centre Hotel on International Dr. in Orlando Sept. 8, and it will not solely focus on HIV/AIDS prevention.

“Florida ranks very high across the board for many health disparities and we’d like to address as many as possible, including HIV,” says Joshua Myers, Hope & Help’s development and communications director.

The Headdress Ball — named after the handmade headdresses that were made by LGBTQ groups, bars and organizations and worn by drag queens and dancers at the event — removed the namesake head wear several years ago to make room for a more creative message and more diverse entertainment to draw a wider audience, according to Myers.

“We wanted all of our events and programs to reflect the change that Hope & Help has undergone and headdress as an art form is dying out and we want to thrive along with the rest of our community,” Myers says.

While the name and focus has now changed, the reason for the event remains the same — to raise money for Hope & Help’s programs and services. This year’s event, themed Mystic Island, will feature a variety of valuables available in both the live and silent auctions; including a 17.2 karat ruby diamond, trips to amazing locales such as Belize, concert tickets, Kate Spade purses, Aretha Franklin memorabilia and more.

Myers says that Hope & Help’s Mystic Island theme encourages guests to ditch the black ties and fancy dresses and come like they are on an exotic island.

“We want you to have fun and be part of the experience and that is something that has not really happened in the past,” he says. “Based on the surveys that we’ve done recently, that is something that our audience actually likes.”

New HIV cases have steadily increased in Orlando the past three years, something Myers says Hope & Help is aware of.

“Our goal is to raise $100,000 that night to fight new HIV infections in our area and also help Hope & Help provide quality affordable primary care services to everyone,” Myers says.  “So we’re not just focusing on HIV, however it is still a proponent in what we do.”

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Hope & Help Gala, visit HopeAndHelp.org/Gala.

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