Accepting an award from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the audience on October 15 that there is still more work to be done in aiding people with HIV and AIDS. As she accepted the first Founder’s Award, she said she wants an “AIDS-free generation” to be “our North Star.”
“We still have so far to go,” Clinton said during her speech at the Cipriani Wall Street ballroom in New York. “There are so many challenges in front of us. I thank you, but I know there’s more for us to do. Humans may discriminate, but viruses don’t.”
Standing alongside the former First Lady, Sir Elton John was “honored to honor” her as she’s “the kind of human being that I love.” Clinton impressed John after she publicly supported marriage equality in March and during her speech in Geneva when she said: “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”
John says he hopes Clinton runs in the 2016 Presidential race.
“She’s a great human rights campaigner for people of color, for people of sexual orientation,” John said before the event in an interview with the Associated Press. “She’s made our fight easier by being such a staunch supporter of AIDS and for people’s human rights.”
The United Nations’ HIV/AIDS agency predicted that the epidemic would be decimated by 2030 only if global awareness is strengthened.
Matt Lauer hosted the event after Anderson Cooper vacated the post at the last minute for a breaking news assignment in Washington, DC.
“I was supposed to be a guest here well into my third glass of wine,” Lauer joked in Cooper’s absence. “If I had a dime for every time things turned out this way in Washington, I could fund the cure for AIDS myself.”
Several celebrities and notable public figures such as Governor Andrew Cuomo, Bill Joel, Lisa Marie Presley, Courtney Love and Alec Baldwin attended the event.
“This is quite a humbling experience,” John said at the event. “I am so humbled to be counted among such august company, but I’m also tremendously inspired by their courage, their vision, their generosity, their dedication and grace under fire. What I hope to add to their legacy is my own special brand of pigheaded stubbornness. And believe me, I can be fucking stubborn.”
During an auction, prizes were given to the highest bidder, including: lunch with Anderson Cooper for $12,000, a one-hour tennis lesson with Novak Djokovic for $60,000 and two photos of Elton John by Terry O’Neill for $26,000 and $27,000.
The event raised over $3.45 million for John’s “An Enduring Vision: A Benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation.”