Fanfare: PATF's Moulin Rouge-themed gala honors Dr. Leahy with award
Under ordinary circumstances, there's just no competing with living statues who have names like Jezebel Bebbington D'Opulence and Divauna Taravella, resplendent in green body paint, shimmering glitter, and not much left to the imagination.
“I'm sure it's the sparkles everyone is looking at,” came one keen observation.
Yet none of the 300-plus guests of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force's Moulin Rouge-themed gala seemed to be batting an eye. Instead, everyone was talking about the 2017 Kerry Stoner Awardee.
“What I love about Larry is that he's never been afraid of the backlash he could have received,” said Philip Ferland. “It could have ruined his practice, but he persevered.”
As the first dentist in Pittsburgh to knowingly see HIV-positive patients back in an era when most remained terrified of the little-known disease, Dr. Larry Leahy was putting his career on the line. Even within earshot of a shower of accolades at the J. Verno Studios on April 26, his response typified a selfless support of the HIV/AIDS community.
“People say it was pioneering, but I just did something I knew I should do,” he said.
Cocktail hour allowed just enough time to air kiss friends and supporters, who didn't hold back on their admiration and respect for a man who has been involved with the PATF for decades, including service as past president and board member.
“I think that what he did is absolutely groundbreaking and there are no words that can be expressed enough to thank him as he deserves,” said Gene Welsh.
“He's just an amazing person. Period,” added CEO Sean DeYoung.
Once the call went out from emcee Thea Trix that “The garden was open,” guests immersed themselves into a deliciously alluring space adorned with roses, Dutch tulips, daffodils, and edible centerpieces courtesy of creative chair Jose Diaz and Thommy Conroy.
On the list: board president Brian Balonick, honorary chairs Charlie Humphrey and Laura Jordan, Tim McVay and David Bush, Marty Healey, Nachum Golan and Steve Hough, Dr. Elliot Kramer and Bill Modrak, Sarah McKean, Kathe and Jim Patrinos, Richard Parsakian, Stacy Weiss, Toni Chiappini, Bob Sendall, Mary Beth Johnson, Bob Davis and John Klein, Rep. Dan Frankel.