On 8 June, the 26th and final Life Ball held its final event with the theme “United in Diversity”. Founder and organizer, Gery Keszler said of the incredible years, “We achieved more than we ever dared hope. I am so eternally grateful. It is now time to bring this project to a fitting conclusion”.
Attending the event, Fondation Kids with a Cause Europe (KWACE) President, Shawne Fielding has worked tirelessly for three decades, fundraising for different AIDS charities, including being on the board of AIDS Arms, Dallas, Texas, Honorary Chair of the Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and served as Ambassador for AIDS Hilfe, Switzerland.
“I’ve supported this cause in the US and Europe since the early 90s. This is an amazing event, which has helped support many people living with AIDS while addressing the stigma around this disease, which has been vital stopping the spread of it. The Life Ball, will be missed, but the work goes on and I’m sure Life + will continue to positively impact people affected by AIDS in the developing countries it is going to focus on.”
About LIFE +
LIFE+ association, which was responsible for arranging the annual event, will continue its work. Over the years, Life Ball has raised almost EUR 30 million which have been donated to national and international AIDS charity projects.
Numerous international personalities in the fight against HIV/AIDS will support the final Life Ball in Vienna, including amfAR ambassador and actress Katie Holmes, Golden Globe winner and Oscar® nominee Keala Settle, and burlesque artist Dita Von Teese. Andy Warhol muse Dianne Brill and Conchita will host the finale.
With the development of antiviral drugs, in the West, AIDS is no longer considered a death sentence, rather a chronic disease, which can be lived with. However, in developing countries, the problem is still acute and lives can still be saved, if treatments reach people in time. There is work to be done through education, raising awareness and addressing stigmas, which will be the focus of the LIFE + association.