Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB): Kickoff, Student Fashion Show, 2/15 & 2/16!

Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB): Kickoff, Student Fashion Show, 2/15 & 2/16!

The Telluride AIDS Benefit (TAB) is a nonprofit whose mission is to fight HIV/AIDS by heightening awareness and generating financial support for educational programs and client care from the Western Slope to Subsaharan Africa.

TAB week launches with the Student Fashion Show and continues into TAB Fashion Week, which culminates with the Gala Fashion Show on 2/24. Monday, 2/26, is the Designer Sample Sale. But free AIDS testing continues through 3/9. (The week also includes other super events.) Check out the schedule here.

Click here for tickets to a fashion show.

Can’t attend? Click here to donate to the cause.

Click here to volunteer. (It takes over 150 volunteers to produce Telluride’s favorite winter event.)

Click here to learn about the beneficiaries TAB helps to support big time.

In Colorado, according to stats from the CDC, about 15,000 people are living with HIV. However, 60% of Coloradans with diagnosed HIV are virally suppressed, allowing them to live long and healthy lives and effectively at no risk of sexually transmitting HIV.

Yes, pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP and syringe services programs (SSPs) have helped big time. But there is still no cure for HIV infection.

WHO, the Global Fund and UNAIDS all have HIV strategies targeting the end the HIV/AIDS pandemic by 2030. Same goes for the Telluride AIDS Benefit, the local nonprofit, which, since 1994, has been dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS by heightening awareness and generating financial support for educational programs and client care.

According to Avert, a global information and education site, AIDS is the leading cause of death among young people (ages 10-24) in Africa and the second leading cause globally. Unprotected sex is the most common route of the HIV infection among that population and restrictive government guidelines that politicize the issue and focus on abstinence only are tragically misguided.

Which is why the Telluride AIDS Benefit begins, as it has for several years running, with Telluride’s students. The Student Fashion Show takes place at the Palm Theater, 2/15 and 2/16, 5:30 p.m. doors; 6 p.m. show time.

Spotlight on Prevention Education 2024:

For years, educator and former TAB board member Sandy McLaughlin headed TAB’s HIV/AIDS awareness and risk-reduction initiatives at the school – even before TAB’s inception dating back to the time she was school principal, 1991 – 1994. Post-TAB, Sandy used educators from its primary beneficiaries, now that job falls to TAB leaders: Executive Director Jessica Galbo and board members Cynthia Sommers and Shannon Westveer.

Here’s how the peer education program works:

“Every summer, the TAB Student HIV Awareness Project provides an opportunity for 20 students to attend a three-day program on Colorado’s Front Range or Western Slope, with those young people participating in roundtable discussions and experiential learning with TAB’s front-line partners and medical professionals. The success of these programs can be attributed to collaborations with TAB’s incredible partner organizations such as the Children’s Hospital Immunodeficiency Program, or CHIP; Colorado Health Network; and Brother Jeff’s Health Initiative, as well as the dedicated and professional staff and volunteers who invest weeks of careful preparation to create these remarkable opportunities,” explains TAB Executive Director continuing:

“Last year TAB witnessed an unprecedented surge in interest from local high school student eager to participate in TAB’s HIV Awareness Project and the Student Fashion Show internship program. TAB is committed to fostering youth leadership and cultivating ambassadors for the cause, and surges in interest are significant achievements that underscore, the creation of allies and advocates among the next generation, as well as provide crucial and comprehensive HIV education and testing.”

Testimony to how well peer education works lies in the fact a number of Telluride High School grads chose to continue to wave TAB’s banner, “Fight.Fund, Educate,” on high. For example, Edith Elliot, the very first Student Fashion Show director, developed a career as an AIDS educator; other directors went on to create educational outreach programs at their colleges.

The Student Fashion Show itself is an annual tribute to student innovation, charitable endeavors, and the aforementioned peer-driven educational programs.  Through the event, high school students from the Telluride region get to take the reins as leaders in various roles, guiding the creation of an extraordinary, theatrical fashion spectacle.

In 2023, the Student Fashion Show expanded to include two sold-out evening performances. And year’s show is larger than ever, including a record breaking 100+ high school students participating from the Telluride School District.

Yes there are no auditions. Anyone interested in participating can, a tribute to DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion).

(So much for the burgeoning anti-woke movement.And yes, that is a thing.)

For TAB, the Big Idea behind the clothes, the choreography, and the music is the fact the pandemic persists, increasingly as we said among young people. The tenacity of the virus drives the need for prevention education to keep everyone safe and, yes, it also about raising money to support the Telluride AIDS Benefit’s growing list of worthy beneficiaries through spectacular fashion events.

In other words, read between the (clothing) lines.

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