University of Toronto, St. George Party for AIDS Research

On October 19, a party was hosted by students of the University of Toronto, St. George Campus. The students were members of the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR), and the party was held to raise funds and awareness for the foundation’s endeavors. Michelle Park explained that “100% of the ticket sales are donated to AIDS research in Canada.” Park went on to say, “The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) is Canada’s only independent charitable foundation dedicated to eliminating AIDS through research. By funding promising Canadian HIV and AIDS research and promoting prevention through educational campaigns, CANFAR is working to end AIDS globally.”

Park said that social networking was vital in spreading the word about the party on campus. Most students are constantly connected to the internet, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, and the CANFAR team used that to their advantage. Posters on campus and email advertising were helpful as well. The party was held at The London Tap House, who Park said were extremely helpful and even offered “free appetizers and didn’t charge us for the use of their venue.” Park advises anyone planning an event to “Start as early as you can. Give yourself around 3-4 weeks to sell tickets.”

CANFAR got its start when Dinah Koo, Van Beltrame and Robert Mang, had the means to help, but no cause in mind. “They decided to create a research foundation, in order to help find treatment, and, maybe one day, a cure. They brought on Dr. Mary Fanning, Dr. Michael Baker and Dr. Norbert Gilmore – doctors and scientists who would determine which research projects were the most promising and deserving of the funding raised. The incorporation papers for CANFAR were signed in October 1987.” The foundation grew to new levels when Toronto philanthropist Bluma Appel, took notice of the group’s work. “Bluma was well-known for championing unpopular causes that had been cast out of mainstream society’s dinner party discussions and living room conservations. AIDS was one of those causes. Bluma took up the cause, reaching out to as many people as possible and never taking ‘no’ for an answer. She knocked down doors across North America, from the White House to the United Nations, from business leaders to political leaders and members of the larger community. She even convinced the Chairman of the Royal Bank of Canada to get involved. This brought with it the support of many Canadian banks – banks that still support CANFAR today. Soon after came the fundraisers and important Canadian research breakthroughs – many of which keep millions alive today.”

More information about CANFAR and their research can be found on their website and Facebook page.