NEW YORK, May 21 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Unidos Podemos – United We Can – was the rallying theme that brought together Hollywood stars, entertainers, Latino health advocates, business leaders, community members and elected officials in support of the Latino Commission on AIDS at its 13th annual Cielo Latino gala benefit at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Tuesday, May 13, raising over $500,000 for the Commission’s programs and initiatives to stop HIV/AIDS in the Latino community. The largest fundraiser of its kind in the nation, this year’s event raised more money than any other in the organization’s history. Rosie Perez, Lupe Ontiveros, Amaury Nolasco, Denise Quinones, and Geraldo Rivera are a few of the celebrities that participated in the evening’s festivities.
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“People and organizations all across this country, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are increasing their demand for our services,” said Dennis deLeon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS. “Responding to the changing needs for HIV education, better prevention programs, capacity building for frontline organizations and health departments, and advocating for better healthcare policies and funding is made possible by the generous support of our partners who again participated in Cielo Latino. We are very grateful and honored to have the support of so many who joined us at this year’s Cielo Latino — they are the ‘stars’ in our fight against HIV/AIDS.”
DeLeon, who has been living with HIV/AIDS for 20 years, received a special tribute at the event for his visionary leadership and national advocacy in the cause. The evening’s honorees included: Arisa Batista Cunningham, Vice President for Global Diversity, Medical Devices & Diagnostics Group Worldwide, Johnson & Johnson (Esperanza Award); Bill Roedy, Vice-Chairman, MTV Networks (Business Leadership Award); and, Mathilde Krim, Ph.D., Founding Chairman, amfAR (Fuerza Award).
Kat DeLuna, who in recent months has emerged as one of the defining faces of pop music’s next generation, was named the 2008 International Ambassador to the Commission, following in the footsteps of Gael Garcia Bernal and the former Miss Universe 2006 Zuleyka Rivera. Although Ms. DeLuna was not able to attend the event, she said in her video acceptance remarks that her goal in this role is to educate and inform as many young people as possible to get tested and practice prevention against HIV/AIDS. She hopes to convey this message through her music, concerts, public service announcements and related activities with the Latino Commission throughout the year.
Merck & Co., Inc., the global research-driven pharmaceutical company, was the lead corporate chair of the gala, joined by corporate vice-chairs, Johnson & Johnson and MTV Networks. Critical in-kind support was also provided by American Airlines, the official airline for the event; Harper Collins, publishers of the evening’s program; Diageo, the spirits sponsor; and Plant Shed, donating flowers and décor services.
Cuban-born Cucu Diamantes of Yerba Buena thrilled the audience as the featured entertainer of the evening, unveiling new songs from her forthcoming solo debut album. Cucu’s voice and charisma, accompanied by the rhythms of producer Andres Levin and other members of Yerba Buena, kept the crowd dancing all night long.
“Whatever our role in life may be, wherever we may live, we all live with HIV in one way or another,” said Diamantes. “We should all assume responsibility in responding to this epidemic and I am proud to support the Latino Commission on AIDS in leading the Latino community’s struggle to contain the AIDS epidemic.”
If you wish to learn more about the Latino Commission on AIDS and to help support its services in Latino communities, visit and give at http://www.latinoaids.org .
The Latino Commission on AIDS is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1990 dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Latino community. The Commission realizes its mission by spearheading health advocacy for Latinos, promoting HIV education, developing model prevention programs for high-risk communities, and by building capacity in community organizations. The Commission is the leading national Latino AIDS organizations coordinating National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and other advocacy programs in more than 40 States and Puerto Rico.
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