The fashion, music and entertainment worlds united on Thursday night for amfAR’s virtual benefit to help raise funds for the fight against COVID-19. While there were special guest appearances by Heidi Klum, Rita Ora, Catherine O’Hara, Morgan Freeman, Iman and more, the spotlight was on the evening’s honorees: Glenn Close and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
AmfAR has been traditionally known as the international nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of AIDS research and HIV prevention. However, when the pandemic hit, many amfAR-funded HIV scientists pivoted their work to focus on the immediate crisis, and to support them, amfAR temporarily expanded its efforts to launch the amfAR Fund to Fight COVID-19.
During the live-streamed YouTube event, viewers were encouraged to donate to the cause. In addition, amfAR Trustees agreed to match all donations from the gala up to a total of $100,000.
Receiving the amfAR’s Award of Courage, both Close and Fauci were recognized for their long-standing commitment in supporting amfAR’s mission to end the AIDS pandemic, and for their particular efforts over the last year.
“She has an enormous heart. She puts her time and energy and resources into causes that are distinctly unglamorous and unfashionable. She walks the walks,” Bette Midler said as she presented the award to Close.
In her acceptance speech, the actress said it was the “most-humbling experience” of her life to be awarded next to Dr. Fauci. “He is the man whose courage has given us hope, who courage was unwavering,” added Close. “His moral gravitas has fed us as a nation.”
Dr. Fauci has been a key member of the White House’s coronavirus task force for the past year. Since 1984, he has been director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he has advised seven presidents on HIV/AIDS, Ebola and many other global health issues.
Julia Roberts made an appearance during the A Gala for Our Time program to pay tribute to Dr. Fauci.
“I’m quite humbled,” he said, receiving the award. “We are going to continue the work both with HIV and as we continue to tackle this COVID-19 pandemic. We are in a very unusual situation historically where we are battling simultaneously two extraordinary pandemics. We have our challenges ahead of us. I promise you that I will continue to do whatever I can to address both of those.”