Belinda Carlisle headlines the fundraiser for the funder of last resort



DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

MetroBall celebrates its 10th anniversary tonight (Friday, June 5), with Belinda Carlisle headlining an evening of entertainment at S4.

For the past few years, MetroBall has been held during Razzle Dazzle Dallas weekend. But while Razzle is taking this year off to regroup, MetroBall chair John Cooper-Lara doesn’t think it will impact his event.

MetroBall benefits the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, a funder of last resort that covers needs of the clients of AIDS service providers that aren’t addressed by other sources.

Cooper-Lara said most people think of the AIDS crisis as being under control, with everyone receiving their medications and remaining healthy. But the need is greater than ever since funding levels and sources are decreasing.

Cooper-Lara said not only is GDMAF getting more requests for help, the amounts requested are getting larger. In addition, he said, GDMAF has widened its scope and is taking requests from AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth in addition to Dallas agencies.

“So we must find more funds to meet the gaps,” Cooper-Lara explained.

Some of those gaps that need to be filled are utility bills or rent that need to be paid. Others, he said, are “not clean-cut.”

Cooper-Lara used the example of someone needing a car repaired or a tire replaced. Without a running car, that person can’t get to work, and if they can’t get to work, they lose that job that provides the health insurance that makes their medication accessible.

“A tire can be everything to somebody,” Cooper-Lara said.

Fernie Sanchez is intake supervisor at AIDS Arms and manages GDMAF requests from his agency.

He said among the requests he’s seen are for a refrigerator to keep medication cold.

Not all AIDS Arms clients live in the city. During the cold snap this past winter, GDMAF funded a request from Sanchez that helped keep a family warm by filling butane tanks.

“They give help you won’t find anywhere else,” Sanchez said of GDMAF, adding that some clients can afford the monthly rent on an apartment, but can’t afford the extra expense of the upfront deposit. By filling that need, he said, GDMAF has helped keep a family from being homeless.

Sanchez added that because GDMAF has answered the needs of so many of his clients when his agency couldn’t, he’ll be at MetroBall volunteering his time.

For the past few years, MetroBall has been the Friday night event of Razzle Dazzle weekend. This year, Razzle is taking the year off from producing a big street party. Instead, the organization is putting on several smaller events to keep the name alive, bring in some necessary seed money and even contribute to MetroBall.

Last week at The Brick, Razzle Dazzle ran the Big D Talent Contest and the winners, Michael Duane and Aaron Soto, will perform at MetroBall.

They’ll also appear at Razzle Dazzle’s Dazzler Awards on June 21. Razzle President Tom Dance said he asked agencies to nominate a male and female volunteer “who never gets the credit,” but always gets things done and are essential to the organization. The awards will be presented on Fathers Day at the Round-Up Saloon.

Razzle has already done two party bus trips to Winstar Casino and has another planned for Aug. 22. Proceeds benefit GDMAF.

Dance said next year Razzle Dazzle Dallas will be back, but for now, “Destination unknown.”

The committee will start planning later this summer.

So this year, MetroBall stands on its own, the way it started 10 years ago when it was a much smaller party at Throckmorton Mining Company.

Cooper-Lara is counting on the biggest turnout in the event’s history as GDMAF celebrates a decade of MetroBall fundraising. In addition to Carlisle, Australian Internet DJ and performer Ray Isaac will perform along with the Big D Talent winners.

A silent auction featuring gift baskets, art and gifts has contributed to the event’s success each year.

Cooper-Lara said GDMAF can only fund 60 percent of the requests it receives from area agencies. His board evaluates requests by deciding “will this make a difference.”

Still, the organization would like to help more people.

“That’s why MetroBall is so important,” Cooper-Lara said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 5, 2015.