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ArtCares Benefit for the AIDS Taskforce

On Saturday night, April 16th, we attended the 2015 ArtCares Benefit for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland held at the Masonic Auditorium at 36th Street and Euclid Avenue not far from the offices of Margaret W. Wong and Associates. We really wanted to attend this event because our friend, Mr. John Farina was honored there as the ArtCares Icon of 2015 for his outstanding contributions to the LGBT community. We know Mr. Farina through our activities with the Stonewall Democratic Club but he is also on the staff of the AIDS Taskforce and has also served on the boards of Equality Ohio, GLSEN, NAMI, and the Human Rights Campaign among others. He is currently the Executive Director of ARTneo at 78th Street Studios.

Ms. Tracy Jones, Executive Director of the AIDS Taskforce, described Mr. Farina as an "extraordinary human being." She went on to say that "if he commits to you he will do everything that he can over and above!" Ms. Jones then said, with a twinkle that, "his poor fiancé comes with the package."

She then introduced Mr. Farina's fiancé, Mr. Adam Tully who actually presented the award. Mr. Tully agreed with Ms. Jones about Mr. Farina's intensity; in fact he acknowledged that when John does something he jumps in with both feet but that was okay because "I kind of like it."

Mr. Farina accepted his honor humbly and talked for a moment about the work that the important work that the AIDS Taskforce does. He then thanked his family and his fiancé and his family for all of the love and support that they have given him over the years. Speaking about Mr. Tully, Mr. Farina said that "I wouldn't be anywhere without this guy. Adam is the reason that I do what I do."

Almost 300 people turned out for this event and most people credited Ms. Rebecca Murray-Strong, Director of Development and Marketing of the AIDS Taskforce, for its success. We sat for a few minutes with Ms. Tonya Simmons, the new finance person for the AIDS Taskforce, who said that "Rebecca worked very hard and this is a great turnout."

At his request, the award that Mr. Farina received was created for him by a local artist. There were also some very beautiful pieces of art that were being bid for and the artists that we talked to like Mr. Lee Norris, Ms. Cheryl Gross, and Ms. Kelli Perk (the wife of Judge Ralph Perk, Jr.) were more than happy to stand by their works and pose for photos.

The food was excellent and we made a friend out of a fellow named Armando who manned the "Rising Star Coffee Roasters" booth and kept us supplied with coffee which was just what we needed to keep going after a long day. And we are glad that we are able to keep going because if we could not, we would miss a lot of meaningful experiences like this benefit.

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