Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fund-Raiser at Prohibition: From a Fan

(Alicia Minshew and fans)

“Loving Out Loud”

Bright sunshine and blue skies warmed the sidewalk on the west side of Columbus Avenue and 84th Street in Upper Manhattan. Late afternoon brought a line of people to the entrance of Prohibition, a high-end bar and restaurant that is reminiscent of the 1920s and ’30s fused with a modern edge. This comfortable, cozy eatery once again served as the venue for the 3rd annual POZ kickoff to AIDS Walk New York held on May 14th.

POZ is “the premier lifestyle, treatment and advocacy magazine for people living with—and those affected by—HIV and AIDS,” explained Giovanni Vitacolonna via e-mail. Vitacolonna is the circulation supervisor of POZ magazine and coordinator of the event. Daytime actors from One Life to Live, As the World Turns, Guiding Light and All My Children, along with other local celebrities like Jack Mackenroth of Project Runway came out to support the cause. A total of $7,500 from that evening went toward the POZ team’s fund-raising for the May 18 AIDS Walk, bringing the grand total to over $13,800.

(Rich Herschenfeld of Prohibition with fiancee, Alicia Minshew and Thorsten Kaye)

With over 200 in attendance, fans of AMC’s Zach and Kendall, portrayed by Thorsten Kaye and Alicia Minshew, came out in force. This year’s POZ theme “Love Out Loud” was on full display. Crystal McCovery flew in from Las Vegas to not only see her friends from the online Z&K Message Board, but to see Kaye and Minshew. A three year member of the Z&K board, this is the second time McCovery has attended the POZ kick-off event. McCovery and a fellow board member collected additional money on the Z&K board to donate to POZ. “It started three years ago. The first year, we (members of the Z&K board) raised $500, the second $2,550 and this year, $2,600.” Though HIV/AIDS has not impacted McCovery personally, she does support the cause and has participated in the Los Angeles AIDS walk and has done some of her own fund-raising.

(Van Hansis and Billy Magnussen of As the World Turns)

For fellow Z&K board members, Kay Gordon of Greensboro, N.C., and Susan Johnson of Richmond, Virginia, the impact of HIV/AIDS has personal meaning. Gordon and Johnson have lost people close to them and feel very strongly about raising money for AIDS. “I have a friend who lost a son to AIDS several years ago before all the new medication, etc. And while the disease has not hit my family directly, I know the pain it caused my friend,” explains Johnson. Gordon lost three close friends to AIDS, the last dying nine years ago. “It is heartbreaking and shattering to this day.”

(Marj Dusay of Guiding Light talking about her late son, Randy)

In addition to traveling north for the POZ event, Gordon ordered several hundred bracelets with the theme “Love Out Loud,” joined by two ribbons and Team POZ 2008 on the back. These bracelets were given to members of the POZ staff, as well as to the celebrities who attended the event. The proceeds Gordon made for selling the bracelets were donated to POZ and the rest of the bracelets were given to Vitacolonna to do “with what he wishes.” [POZ will use them for its upcoming Los Angeles event.]

(Thorsten Kaye and Alicia Minshew)

Vitacolonna has been part of the POZ staff for the last two and a half years. He’s a Star Walker for the Walk. When he came to work at POZ, he decided to make the effort “a bit more formal.” Over the last three years, “Love Out Loud” has grown, with more actors and primetime personalities attending. For the future, Vitacolonna sees the event turning “into a VIP soiree, and we’d like to develop more elaborate fund-raising functions for the stage.”

(Alicia Minshew, Billy Miller and Melissa Claire Egan of All My Children)

What about all those crazy Zendall fans? Throughout the three-hour event, they “Loved Out Loud,” dancing to music, enjoying each other’s company and uniting together because of two very special actors who inspired the Z&K board. “We seem to be more dedicated to the actors more than the characters they play on the show. We love Thorsten and Alicia first and foremost,” McCovery explains. Gordon concurs. “The uniqueness starts with the loyalty to the couple. That goes directly to the talent, presence and love/respect for the fans of the actors themselves. Zen fans are unique because of TK and Lish and who they are.”

(Mark Dobies and Kamar de los Reyes of One Life to Live)

Vitacolonna explains it is not unusual for a group of fans to come together and raise additional money to donate. Of the members of the Z&K board, “they are the best in the soap world.”

Kristen Jaccodine

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