Arts come together for AIDS benefit

Dancers scurried while musicians played Thursday in their final preparations for tonight’s AIDS awareness benefit concert.Chi Tau Epsilon, the dance honor society, will host the TCU Arts Collaboration AIDS Benefit Concert, which will feature students from the TCU dance department, theatre department, the TCU Jazz Band and artwork of photography students.

Heather Creek, a senior ballet and political science major, put the benefit together this year and said everyone has been planning for tonight since the spring of last year.

The concert raised $1,200 last year, and Chi Tau Epsilon and the performers are aiming for $2,000 this year.

Creek said there will be a lobby display in the Ballet Building set up by photography students where people can purchase original photographs to help raise money.

“We do raise a tremendous amount of our funding for this concert through corporate donations in the TCU and Fort Worth area,” Creek said. “We have had an outpouring this year.”

Michelle Timmons, a senior ballet and English major, decided to participate in this year’s event because of the nature of the cause.

“It was really great last year, and we have the opportunity to raise more this year,” Timmons said.

The AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County is in partnership with Chi Tau Epsilon for the second consecutive year.

Vicky Harper, special events and volunteer coordinator for the AIDS Outreach Center, said benefits such as this help to send out the message that AIDS is still a big issue.

“The public thinks that just because medications are making people live longer, that the disease is going away,” Harper said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, there was an estimated 42,514 people in the United States living with AIDS in 2004.

Also according to the site, the cumulative estimated number of diagnoses of AIDS through 2004 in the United States is 944,305. Adult and adolescent AIDS cases total 934,862 with the majority being male. Through the same time period, 9,443 AIDS cases were estimated in children under 13.

Austin Patton, an accompanist for the dance department, said he is participating this year because the benefit promotes a heathy attitude toward gaining knowledge of AIDS.

“The good thing about events like this is that just by having a name out there saying we are doing this as an AIDS benefit – it raises awareness,” Patton said. “It strikes our community deeper than some of us perceive. It will not necessarily affect everyone directly, but most people, whether they know it or not, probably know someone who is affected by AIDS.