By Tereasa Nims

Former Dallas City Councilwoman Veletta Forsythe Lill, shown riding in the city’s gay Pride parade, will be keynote speaker at AIDS interfaith Network’s annual fundraising gala April 26

Tickets still available for second annual Bloomin’ Ball

Tickets are still available for the second annual "Bloomin’ Ball … sowing seeds of hope" gala benefiting AIDS Interfaith Network on April 26.

The annual fundraiser will feature former Dallas City Councilwoman Veletta Forsythe Lill as keynote speaker. Fox 4 news anchor Baron James and prominent realtors Kathy Hewitt and Steve Habgood are honorary co-chairs.

State Rep. Rafael Anchia and wife Marissa are hosting the event.

"We’ve attacked it from every angle," AIN development manager Blake M. Peery said of the team working to stage the event this year.

Peery said they’ve doubled their space from the 2007 event, allowing them room for 330 ticket-holders as well as for another 70 they hope to seat. Peery said in 2007 they only were able to seat 200.

"It’s just an evening of inspiration," Peery said, adding that the event brings together the LGBT community, corporations and faith-based organizations.

"It’s about how everyone can be a seed of hope. We believe that’s the cornerstone," he said.

In addition to the increased attendance, the value of the auction items has also tripled from the 2007 event.

James said, "Participating in this event is one of the most direct and immediate ways people can have an impact in the lives of North Texans who are living with or impacted by HIV/AIDS. I am honored to have the opportunity to work with AIN and this hardworking group of people who are dedicated to raising funds to provide hope and life’s basic necessities to those in need in our community."

Baron encouraged sponsorship from individuals, businesses and organizations.

AIN officials said the organization provides direct-care services to more than 1,700 North Texans living with HIV/AIDS. It serves more than 20,000 with HIV/AIDS prevention education, and offers pastoral support, spiritual care and counseling to those living with HIV/AIDS and their families and caregivers.

AIN also houses the Daire Center, the only north Texas adult day and respite care center for adults living with HIV/AIDS.

Since 1995, AIN has annually honored a business, a faith-based organization and an individual with a Crystal Hope Awards in recognition of significant contributions in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The 2008 business award will go to Dallas Voice; the faith-based organization award will go to Grace United Methodist Church; and Nancy Abbott Torell will receive the individual award.

The awards will be presented during the Bloomin’ Ball.

The program is from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Westin Park Central Hotel, 12720 Merit Drive in Dallas. Tickets to the Bloomin’ Ball are $100 for VIP seating, $75 for premier seating and $65 for regular seating. Tickets are available by calling 214-943-4444 or by going to


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2008.

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