LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) announced that its parade float entry, ‘Elizabeth Taylor: Our Champion,’ which AHF entered for consideration for the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade was approved by Tournament officials and will be sailing down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena for all the world to see in the iconic parade January 2.
AHF’s parade float entry—the first in the 123-year history of the Tournament parade to focus on HIV/AIDS and the first-ever sponsored by the 25-year-old global AIDS organization—honors two-time Academy Award-winning actress Elizabeth Taylor for her tireless, nearly three decade-long advocacy and compassion on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS. Taylor, who died March 23rd at age 79, championed HIV and AIDS programs starting in the 1980s, she co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR) in 1985 and the eponymous Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) in 1993.
“Our Tournament of Roses Parade float is a tribute to someone who was more than a film star—Elizabeth Taylor was a real hero and one who truly deserves all the accolades she has received,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which provides medical care and services to more than 124,000 people in 26 countries around the globe. “Long before it was fashionable, she was there by our side—a singular and fearless champion for AIDS activism. She spoke truth to power on a variety of issues, and her organization, which had no overhead, helped fund AHF and other AIDS organizations in Los Angeles at a time when funding was hard to come by. For her to speak out and show her compassion really changed the game.”
Over the years AIDS Healthcare Foundation received several grants from the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF). These funds were specifically designated for AHF’s ‘Ithembalabantu’ Clinic (Zulu for ‘people’s hope’) in Durban, South Africa, which provides free lifesaving antiretroviral treatment to people with AIDS. The first of these grants came long before President George W. Bush created the US’ global AIDS program known as PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and at a time when treatment was not widely available in poor countries around the world. Just has she had in the earliest days of the epidemic, Ms. Taylor once again demonstrated real leadership in the fight against AIDS—this time, in helping to prove that treatment could and should be brought to those in need around the world.
“AHF’s ‘Our Champion’ float also serves as a reminder that, though Ms. Taylor bravely stood up for people living with HIV/AIDS at an important moment in history, the AIDS epidemic is still not over and there remains much work to be done,” added Weinstein.
In another potential first for the Tournament of Roses Parade, the public at large across the country and around the world will have a chance to contribute to the construction of AHF’s float honoring Elizabeth Taylor while also honoring memories of their own loved ones who have died. This week, AHF is kicking off a novel ‘Text to Donate’ fundraising campaign offering the sale of ‘AHF Memory Flowers.’ For a modest $5 dollar donation contributed via a cell phone text donation, a donor will have the name of a loved one who has died hand-written on a water vial holding one of the over 150,000 roses that will make up the Elizabeth Taylor float. The significance of the roses is that they will serve as “memory flowers”, honoring any “rose” in your life that you miss. To participate in the AHF Memory Flower living tribute honoring Elizabeth Taylor’s AIDS advocacy and your own loved one, simply text the word FLOWER and the NAME OF THE PERSON you are honoring to the text number 20222.
AHF’s ‘Elizabeth Taylor: Our Champion’ Parade Float has been designed by award winning float designer Raul Rodriquez and is being built by the respected and award-winning Fiesta Parade floats. The float will be made of 150,000 flowers and will take the form of an oversized red ribbon, the international symbol of AIDS, with a circling world globe. There will be photographs of Taylor from various stages in her life and career: from ‘National Velvet,’ her breakthrough film as a child; from the film, ‘Cleopatra;’ and an iconic photo from her later years when she was devoting much of her life to advocacy on AIDS. The photos will be largely be rendered in black and white, using seeds and grains to capture the effects of a black and white photo. At least one of the photos will have spot color, also rendered in seeds, grains and flowers: for her world famous eyes, and to color a small red AIDS ribbon pinned to her blouse.
“We are honored that the Executive Board of the Tournament of Roses approved our float this year and who better to honor than the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor for her leadership on AIDS,” added AHF’s Weinstein. “This year, the theme of the Tournament of Roses Parade is ‘Just Imagine.’ In honor and remembrance of Elizabeth, let’s imagine and work toward a world without AIDS.”
The Tournament of Roses Parade begins at 8 a.m., Jan. 2 in Pasadena.