Celebrity activists talk about the upcoming AIDS concert and gala

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In its 19th year, Help Is On the Way AIDS Benefit Concert & Gala will feature a night of song and dance with celebrity artists including Jim Bailey, legendary female impersonator known for his Judy Garland performance, Alex Newell from “The Glee Project,” Tony Award Winner Donna McKechnie from “A Chorus Line,” and Carol Cook, theater star and long time supporter of AIDS, who has been with the production since its 3rd year.

The benefit stands as the grassroots efforts of two mothers, Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet, who both lost their only sons to AIDS. The event was created to honor their memory and offer solace to other sons and daughters suffering from HIV/AIDS. It has since grown to be the largest annual AIDS benefit concert in Northern California, and one of the leading sources of funding for the disease.

Here is what celebrity activists had to say on behalf of their involvement with  Help Is On the Way.

Jim Bailey: “I was thrilled to do “Help Is On The Way…especially for AIDS!”

Donna McKechnie: “Losing so many cherished friends to this disease for so many years has had impact on my life. The sadness, the grief, the feelings of powerlessness, the anger, and frustration have marked my life. It helps me to be able to cope when I can find ways to rally and wage the war against it. And I find great reward and strength to be with people, friends, who work so hard behind the scenes and on stage, who gladly give their time and effort to help this cause.”¨”¨”¨”¨”¨”¨”

Carole Cook: It is something I believe in so wholeheartedly. We’ve made strides but we still have a long way to go. I think we’ve gotten rather cavalier about AIDS. I reject the word cocktail. It’s more than that. It’s a long terrible road.

I laugh and I say the audience has watched me grow old right in front of them. But then I felt ok about it because I’ve watched them do the same thing. I said I got through menopause on that stage, so there you have it.

We’ve had wonderful musicians with us, and everybody in show business has been in this show one time or another because everybody wants to help. We just have a great time and wear a lot of fun clothes. People ask me, “Where do you get your clothes?” And I respond, ‘Drag queens, circus performers and nuns that have gone bad.’ That’s what I do, darling, and I just love doing it and I’ll keep doing it as long as they ask me, and as long as I can walk out on stage. You put enough feathers and glitter on me, I can walk out on stage.”

Help Is On The Way will be at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco August 18.

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