A stunning display of black, white, and ruby red took over Marathon Music Works on Saturday, December 3. The Ruby Gala, benefitting the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Care Clinic (VCCC), was a beautiful event complete with a live auction, drinks, seated dinner and a performance by dynamic Australian trio DOZZI.
The Ruby Gala is an annual event to raise the funds and awareness needed to support those with HIV, to help HIV-positive people overcome barriers to receiving treatment, and to encourage sustainable HIV care in the future through the recruitment and training of HIV practitioners. This last piece, the future of HIV care, is why Ruby Gala co-chairs Sean Kelly, Christopher James, and Maggie Colburn, are working intentionally to reach Middle Tennessee’s younger generations as the event develops year after year.
With that in mind, The Ruby Gala embraces the diversity of Nashville and strives for inclusion among its guests, so as an intentional departure from tradition, the Ruby Gala utilized approachable ticket prices, allowing more members of the Nashville community to experience the event and learn about the mission to end HIV. Many guests have made significant contributions to the art, culture, and identity of the Nashville community, and this allows for a multitude of conversations about — and an increase in understanding of — HIV and AIDS.
The gala, planned to perfection and executed equally so by Kelse Beeri of Konrad Company, began with a cocktail hour, mingling and utilizing the Music City 360° Photo Booth. Afterwards, guests moved into a stunning dining room designed by Walker Wyatt Florals to a Chef’s Market dinner.
As dinner drew to a close, the Raffanti Award was presented to the Rev. Edwin Sanders II, honoring him as “a community member who has made substantial contributions to those living with HIV in Nashville.” Senior Servant and founder of the Metropolitan Interdenominational Church (MIC), Rev. Sanders and the MIC have attracted a broad congregation through being “inclusive of all and alienating to none.” MIC has provided services to persons infected with, and affected by, HIV/AIDS through the First Response Center, which Rev. Sanders founded in 1992.
Artist Benjy Russell was asked to give the keynote speech, and he beautifully discussed living as an immunodeficient person with AIDS in the pandemic, his story and his most recent work: “a multidimensional, immersive experience of beauty, love, and place during precarious times.”
Afterwards, the live auction took place, and the night was rounded out with a performance by DOZZI. The Ruby Gala was a wonderful evening raising HIV and AIDS awareness, and planning for The Ruby Gala 2023 is already underway.