DIFFA/Chicago Marks its 30th Gala with Pomp, Passion and Purpose

Holly Hunt

With the design community gathered en force; Gala XXX makes strong appeal to shred HIV/AIDS

Dr. Flaherty

Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS/Chicago (DIFFA/Chicago) marked the organization’s 30th gala in the fight against HIV/AIDS June 9 at the famed Renzo-Piano-designed Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Fueled by the power, creativity and generosity of the design professionals and enthusiasts in attendance, DIFFA/Chicago raised $300,000. With a theme to shred AIDS, the organization praised supporter’s past and present, thanking them for their unwavering commitment to advancing research, treatment and education.  Presenters also reminded the crowd of over 400 guests that, despite these advances, the fight is not over until a cure is found.

“The DIFFA/Chicago fellowship program in effect is “paying it forward” on a national and global stage. And your support helps make that possible. Know that you are not only making a huge impact here in Chicago but all over the world.” Dr. John Flaherty, Northwestern Medicine Fellowship training program director told the audience on how their contributions supported the fellowship program and made a global impact.

Holly Hunt, the event’s honorary chair, held DIFFA/Chicago’s first major event – Brazil Gala – at her home in 1989.

Holly Hunt’s contributions to the design industry are immeasurable.  As an arbiter of refined taste, her eye for what is now and what is next has established her as one of the industry’s leading luminaries.

“Then and now, Holly’s dedication to the fight lights the way to ending HIV/AIDS in our lifetime,” said Todd Baisch, DIFFA/Chicago Chairman of the Board.

DIFFA/Chicago is the city’s pioneer in awarding grants to fund the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Serving as the unofficial kick-off to NeoCon, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, Gala XXX invited guests to partake in culinary creations presented by Bon Appétit.  A special VIP reception was also held prior to the main event at Terzo Piano.

While the message of finding a cure resounded throughout the evening, DIFFA/Chicago’s annual gala is also well-known for its lively entertainment.  The evening also saw the return of The Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra featuring dancing and star-studded performances from one of Chicago’s most loved and sought-after event bands.

Chilli Pepper

Gala XXX also featured a series of inspiring presentations and videos as well as its live auction and raffle, featuring exclusive and rarely available experiences and offerings. Chilli Pepper, Chicago’s own legendary female impersonator, closed the evenings program with an enthusiastic performance of Donna Summers, I Will Survive!

Another highlight of the evening was the naming of The Unsung Hero. This year, the recognition was presented to Mary Jo Fasan, who has enthusiastically served DIFFA/Chicago with Jo Chicago.

Gala XXX sponsors are:

VIP Reception Host/Modernism Sponsor – Knoll/Corporate Concepts

Legacy Benefactor – Herman Miller

Platinum Sponsor – Steelcase

Sustaining Benefactor and Photography Underwriter – NeoCon 50

Host Sponsor – Clune Construction

Host Sponsor – Thomas Interior Systems

Media Sponsor – LUXE Interiors + Design

Cocktail Party Host – Office Revolution

Entertainment Sponsor – The Ruder Group

Video Sponsor – Stone Source

Music Sponsor – Infinium Walls

Music Sponsor – ISI

Music Sponsor – Gianni

Event Décor – Frost

Music/Entertainment – Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra

Brand & Design Sponsor – sparc, inc.

Proceeds from the Gala go to Chicago-area service agencies providing assistance, education and outreach to those living with HIV/AIDS.  DIFFA/Chicago’s fellowships support medical researchers who are leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Board of Directors
David Bright – Holly Hunt
Todd Baisch – Holly Hunt – Kim Winzeler
Cindy Farias, Brian Smuts, Jan McCord- Crestodina
Jennifer Cusack – Meg Prendergast – Emily Skudlarek – Melissa Harmening
Jill Stewart & Diane Pisone
Val Warner – Kim Winzeler

About DIFFA/Chicago
DIFFA/Chicago (The Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids) is a not-for- profit Fundraising and grant making foundation that distributes funds to Chicago area HIV/ AIDS Service agencies that provide direct services, preventative education and outreach to people who are HIV   positive, living with AIDS or at risk for infection.  Founded in 1984, DIFFA has granted more than $41 million to hundreds of community-based organizations nationwide.  For more information visit diffachicago.org.