AIDS Services Foundation 30th Annual Gala

Photo courtesy of Elena Burns and Tanya Amador

“PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ” written by Irving Berlin in 1927, was later recorded by Fred Astaire and featured in the movie, “Blue Skies” (1946). As it was back then, the song continues to be a universal theme for celebrations, positive thinking in the face of adversity, and making merry. Certainly, all of these underlying themes apply to this year’s appropriately named 30th Anniversary Gala for the AIDS Services Foundation Orange County.

Philip Yaeger, the CEO of this fine Foundation wrote, “For the last 30 years, ASF has stood at the forefront of care for those members of our community…men, women, and children living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. And since our humble beginnings, we have counted on (your) support to help see us and the clients we serve through the trials and tribulations that come with HIV/AIDS and serving those in need.”

This Annual Gala grew out of the 9-minute, backyard, Busby Berkeley-style swimming pool extravaganza that took place in 1985 at the Laguna Beach home of Al Roberts and Ken Jillson. That Annual Event grew into ASF’s signature fundraiser, “Splash.” The final “Splash” was held in 2009 and the event took on a different form as the “Red Ball” and now, the “Annual Gala.”

“Blue Skies” are ahead for ASF/OC! Now in their fourth decade of service to Orange County, ASF is working toward ending the AIDS epidemic in the South County area through expanded testing and prevention services. A satellite office is being created to reach “at-risk” populations where they live, and to make HIV education and prevention part of the fabric of the community. This, combined with increased availability of bio-chemical prevention tools like PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), will help transform the possibility of stopping the epidemic into a reality.

It was a great personal honor to be included as one of the “30 Major Contributors” in the fight to end HIV/AIDS in Orange County. My fellow Honorees are real-life heroes whose reputations for success and compassion precede them.

“Blue days, all of them gone…Nothin’ but Blue Skies from now on…”
It’s “Onward and Upward” for AIDS Services Foundation Orange County! If you should care to support this fine organization, you can do so by going to http://www.ocasf.org. Every dollar helps!

My thanks to the extraordinary volunteers and paid team members of the AIDS Services Organization for including me in support of your fight against AIDS/HIV in Orange County.

Heidi Cortese


To see the 2016 Annual Gala program, click here.


( Click photos to enlarge and view gallery )


( Click photos to enlarge and view gallery )

Photos courtesy of Michael Botsko, Elena Burns, and Tanya Amador.