Since 1988, December 1 has been designated as World AIDS Day, to raise ongoing global awareness of the pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and to honor those who have died of the disease.
“While we have always looked back on World AIDS Day to those we have lost, it’s just as important to have our eye laser-focused on the goal we know we will soon achieve … erasing HIV infection from the face of the earth,” said David Brinkman, CEO of Desert AIDS Project. “That’s why we’re so pleased to have the powerhouse team of D.A.P. board members Terri Ketover, Ann Sheffer, and Tom Truhe co-chairing the 3rd Annual Everyday Heroes Awards on Thursday, December 1 at the Camelot Theatre. Even more importantly, this event gives us the opportunity to shine a light on people who have made such important contributions to what D.A.P. does every day of the year.”
The four honorees at the 3rd Annual Everyday Heroes event, presented by The NestEgg Group, on December 1 at the Camelot Theaters will be Larry Edwards, Joanne Morford, Linda Stevens, and Mike Thompson. Returning Major Sponsors are LULU California Bistro and MOMENTOUS Events.
If Larry Edwards didn’t already know that his drag persona, Pinkie Meringue Shimmer, was well-loved, he found out at the 3rd Annual Queen of the Desert lip-sync competition, when he was voted Fan Favorite. That evening, the “Broadway Quilt” – a labor of love produced by the “Quilting with Pinkie” group at D.A.P. – was on display while Brinkman announced from the stage that raffle tickets will soon go on sale, with the Quilt raffle winner being announced at Everyday Heroes. But Larry/Pinkie isn’t the only one in the family with enviable skills. His husband of 17 years, Kevin Baar has made multiple creative, towering constructions that have earned Pinkie the nickname of “Queen of Headdresses” around southern California.
In addition to the more than 1,000 hours Larry has given to D.A.P., he also volunteers for other organizations including AIDS Assistance Program, Sanctuary Palm Springs, Modernism Week, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Yet he still has time for Pinkie’s Christmas Card Signing for D.A.P. clients who might otherwise be forgotten at the holidays.
The smiling face of volunteer JoAnn Morford is known to any D.A.P. donor who has attended the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards over the last eight years. What they didn’t see, as she competently works the gala’s silent auction, were the countless hours she had already put in for the event. Another of Joanne’s favorite D.A.P. volunteer jobs is being a Dining Out For Life® Ambassador. With her eight years of experience, she helped the event to reach its best fundraising mark yet in 2016.
Maybe it was the 30 years of owning a Hallmark store franchise in Seattle with Brian, her high school sweetheart and husband of 55 years, that has given Joanne the beautiful smile and gregarious manner that makes her beloved among her D.A.P. family. Joanne also serves her adopted Palm Springs community tirelessly as a lead usher at the Palm Canyon Theatre, and volunteers at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs International Film Festival, American Documentary Film Festival, the Film Noir Film Festival, Mizell Senior Center’s Annual Gala and Modernism Week.
Linda Stevens has worked for 25 years at Desert Regional Medical Center (DRMC,) with the last eight as Community Relations Coordinator. She has volunteered for D.A.P.’s Desert AIDS Walk since 1993, can always be depended on at the Steve Chase gala – including the spectacular rooftop pre-gala reception earlier this year – and as an ambassador at new Dining Out For Life restaurants each year.
Linda volunteers year-round for Hanson House – whose mission includes being the “home away from home” at DRMC for the loved ones of critically ill and injured hospitalized patients, and much more – as well as its annual Festival In The Canyons fundraiser. She has handled the logistics for the Clinton Foundation annual private events with President Bill Clinton over the past five years, including his visit to Desert AIDS Project in 2014 when he praised the public-private partnership of Get Tested Coachella Valley with DRMC and dozens of community partners, in its goal to help defeat HIV.
Linda has also become an advocate for the LGBT community and secretly orchestrated hanging an enormous rainbow flag on the side of the Stergios Tower at DRMC during Pride Weekend in 2015.
Mike Thompson is far more than just executive director of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert since June 2014, in the minds of his friends at D.A.P. His leadership embodies the notion of “vibrant community,” demonstrated through the strong collaborative partnerships he has forged in the Coachella Valley. Under his leadership, The Center has become a key partner organization for D.A.P.’s annual Desert AIDS Walk, raising visibility that AIDS is not over. The Center has become a valued partner in the Get Tested Coachella Valley, led by D.A.P., and recently held a vaccine clinic as part of D.A.P.’s response to a meningitis outbreak.
After graduating the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Business Administration, Mike earned nearly 20 years of nonprofit leadership experience. Previously serving as the COO and Acting President of GLAAD and the Executive Director of Equality Utah, he also worked with the Gill Foundation and Gill Action to form One Colorado.
Reflecting his passion for building mission-focused organizations, Mike has also worked extensively as a leadership and organizational development consultant throughout his career, and is actively involved with CenterLink, the national network of LGBT community centers. With all this, he even managed to find time to write and publish canine-inspired “Lessons from Gordo the Dog”, who allows Mike to share his Palm Springs home with Ricky the Dog and Boo Boo the Cat.