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July 4th HIV/AIDS Awareness Concert and Fundraiser Raised Net Total of $1.1 Million

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July 4th HIV/AIDS Awareness Concert and Fundraiser Philadelphia Freedom Concert & Ball, Raised Net Total of $1.1 Million for Elton John AIDS Foundation and Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund
Friday October 28, 2005

Regional AIDS Organizations Enthusiastic

PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ — The July 4 Philadelphia Freedom Concert and Ball headlined by Sir Elton John, drew well over 500,000 people to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, was seen by a television audience of over a half-million others and raised a net total of $1.1 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Philadelphia-based Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, making it one of the largest HIV/AIDS fundraisers in Philadelphia history and the largest HIV/AIDS awareness concert ever held, organizers announced today.

With virtually all expenses paid and income tallied, the total revenue for the event – including sponsorships, grants, vending, ticket sales, phone bank, web donations and in-kind contributions – came to $3.6 million, offsetting a total budget including expenses for concert production, staging, coordination, marketing, etc. of $2.5 million, resulting in the net total profit of $1.1 million. Of that total, the Elton John AIDS Foundation will distribute $800,000 toward its fight to help the millions of HIV/AIDS patients in Africa and other countries hard hit by HIV/AIDS around the globe, while targeting $200,000 to help the estimated 30,000 HIV/AIDS patients in the Philadelphia region. The remaining $100,000 netted by the Hirschfeld Fund will also stay local, to be distributed to HIV/AIDS service organizations by the AIDS Fund. AIDS organizations across the region are enthusiastic with the results.

“Our July 4th celebration this year was a tremendous success, with the Elton John concert being one of those special moments that will surely go into Philadelphia’s history books,” commented Mayor John F. Street. “We are proud that our city once again stood at the forefront of history, leading the call to action against HIV/AIDS with this momentous effort. The Philadelphia Freedom Concert not only raised much-needed funds, it brought recognition and new understanding that will, with continued effort, make a lasting difference here and around the world.”

“The great success of the Philadelphia Freedom Elton John Concert is a testament to the generosity of Pennsylvanians and the tremendous amount of awareness of the AIDS epidemic,” said Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell. “We thank the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the people of Philadelphia for leading the way in this global effort to fight HIV/AIDS, as this event served as a conduit for spotlighting their tireless efforts as we search for a cure to this brutal disease.”

Stated Executive Producer Mark Segal, “Since the day of our announcement last February, the people of Philadelphia and more than 60 AIDS service organizations throughout the region embraced our cause, sharing the vision and giving us the support and insight that enabled us to build this AIDS quilt we called The Philadelphia Freedom Concert with Sir Elton John. That support, together with the progressive vision and unstinting efforts of our city’s leaders, officials, police, fire, sanitation and every city department, helped our small organization accomplish the impossible – one of the largest AIDS fundraisers in Philadelphia history, the largest and best produced July 4th concert in Philadelphia history, the first July 4th celebration that made a profit for charity that anyone can remember. And it made Philadelphians proud of their city and their historic heritage. That is humbling.”

Said Robb Reichard, Executive Director of the AIDS Fund, “With the continued need for emphasis on HIV and AIDS right here in the greater Philadelphia region, the Philadelphia Freedom Elton John Concert served as a great vehicle for raising both funds and public awareness around the issues. The AIDS Fund has been raising funds and public awareness in this region for 19 years, and we know the importance that every dollar can make to those organizations serving on the front lines in the battle against HIV and AIDS. We’re proud to be a part of this effort and put these welcome dollars to work for those who need them most.”

Remarked Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent J. Fumo, “I was proud to assist in this effort. It was terrific to see the city and so many of its organizations come together for this cause. It is the kind of event that is a mark of Philadelphia’s greatness.”

The landmark undertaking to lead the charge against one of the world’s deadliest scourges, brought organizers Mark Segal, president of the Magnus Hirschfeld Fund and a longtime community activist, and Robert Key, executive director of the EJAF, together to focus attention on freeing the world of AIDS on America’s birthday in America’s birthplace, with a star-studded concert featuring Bryan Adams, host Wayne Brady, Patti LaBelle, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops, co-host Bruce Vilanch, Rufus Wainwright and guest presenters Walter Cronkite and Billie Jean King. But the concert and fundraiser accounted for only part of the success of the overall event. A month-long awareness campaign coordinated by Jane Shull, executive director of Philadelphia FIGHT, to coincide with June’s AIDS Education Month and focused on the theme Get Tested, Get Treated, resulted in the largest HIV/AIDS awareness effort ever in the region, with more than 100 AIDS education events held between June 1 and July 4th, including an integrated week of free testing efforts around the City of Philadelphia.

“We were honored and thrilled to have been part of this effort,” said Shull. “In a time when it is easy for people to turn away from the AIDS epidemic, seeing the numbers of people who were willing to spend so much time and effort for this cause was inspiring. Thanks to the support of the Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, AIDS Education Month this year was an outstanding success. We reached twice as many people as ever before in workshops, seminars, conferences and meetings, and many thousands more through the media. As a result, we know that many people in Philadelphia know how to protect themselves and we have taken real steps toward reducing the stigma and discrimination directed against people in our community who are living with – not dying from – HIV.”

Commented Nurit Shein, executive director of the Mazzoni Center, which operates the Mazzoni Testing Van, “After twenty years people have gotten ‘used’ to HIV/AIDS and most are showing ‘disease fatigue.’ Raising awareness is the only way to create the drive that enables us to continue the fight against AIDS and brings resources to sustain that fight. The Freedom Concert and Elton John did just that for Philadelphia on the 4th of July this year. It was not only an exhilarating musical performance, it reminded each and every Philadelphian that the fight is not yet over, and that we must all continue to do our part.”

Televised regionally by WPVI-TV 6ABC, the concert pulled in the highest ratings of that night, beating all local broadcast competition across the country, as well as the Philadelphia region broadcasts of the New York and Boston celebrations combined. All told, more than half a million people watched Elton John perform on the telecast, in addition to the well over half million who attended the event.

An audit is to be completed for the December 31, 2005 year-end along with the submission of the federal form 990 and all state reporting similar to other non-profits in Pennsylvania.

“The concert may be over,” continued Segal, “but the work for HIV/AIDS continues. As a first-time endeavor, this was a learning experience for us all. Yet despite unforeseen challenges and perhaps overly optimistic projections, what we accomplished is pretty remarkable, and something everyone in Philadelphia can be proud of.” A full list of quotes from area AIDS service organizations is available.

For more information on the PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM CONCERT & BALL and the Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, or to make donations, please visit http://www.phillyfreedom.net

Source: Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund